My Dad picked up a pamphlet from the Park House that we got married in, and I've been wanting to type in the information to share.....finally, here it is!
6205 N Sheridan
Come on in!
We're the Berger Park Cultural Center at the corner of Granville and Sheridan, right off the beach just before you reach Loyola Campus. You can't miss our beautiful landmark mansion. Perhaps you've driven by or got off the 151 or 147 Sheridan bus and wondered what does on in there. Well come on inside and take a look at our building and our Creative Arts Program Schedule.
Downey mansion was build by M.T. Powers in 1906 at the cost of $20,000 for Mr. Joseph Downey who came to Chicago from Ireland in 1856. Mr. Downey was on the Board of Education, the Com. of Buildings and the Com. of Public Works during Mayor Swift's administration. The architect was W.C. Zimmerman. The mansion is two and one half stories of gray roman brick with a large overhanging hipped roof in the prairie style. The coach house is constructed with the same brick and overhanging roof and is two stories in height. The house originally was constructed with "Imperial Spanish" roofing tile. Both the mansion and coach house has had interior and exterior changes over the years due to modernization and tenant use. The original floor plans and pictures of the interior are available for viewing by request. The Downey House is significant historically as one of the few remaining examples of the lake-side mansions that once lined Chicago's lakefront from Lincoln Park to Evanston.
Mr. Downey passed away in Florida in 1925. His widow Lena Downey opened the mansion to community service as a "Home for the Destitute", "House of Good Shepherd", and "Chicago Home for Incurables". When Mrs. Downey passed on in 1934 she left the property to the Kliens who donated it to the Clerics of St. Viator in 1944. In 1973 Developers acquired a lien on the 3.5 acres and in 1979 proposed a high rise condominium complex development for the property. The Edgewater Community Council and many other local community groups joined in a lobbying effort which induced the Viatorian Fathers to accept a reduced amount for the sale of the property to the Chicago Park District in March of 1981.
The acquisition was one of the last sizable pieces of lakefront property in Chicago and provided the neighborhoods of Edgewater and Rogers Park with a public resource for the community recreation. The land, including 450 feet of lakefront and the 1906 Downey and 1909 Gunder mansions, was named Berger Park. The two mansions and their coach houses are located at 6205 and 6219 N. Sheridan Road.
Downey Mansion has since been restored using architectural drawings and photos of the interior and exterior of the building. The building is currently being used as classrooms for the Berger Park Cultural Center featuring pottery, music, painting, drawing, lapidary and creative writing.
WHEW - my fingers are tired! Not sure if any of you, dear readers, are interested in reading that whole thing, but at least now its documented in my blog, so I'll have the knowledge for years to come :)