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Projects | Hanson Park Field House

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The Hanson Park Field House located on the south side of West Fullerton Avenue in Chicago, was designed by John C. Christensen in 1936. A Palladian-style single-story masonry and limestone building with architectural features and historical associations that make the structure significant in the context of the surrounding community in its previous life, it served as a recreation facility for the adjacent Hanson Park Elementary School. Currently unused, the community is interested in bringing new life back into the site and potentially the building if it is still viable.

As part of Smith Group JJR’s team servicing Cook County Health and Hospital Systems ambulatory sites, Bailey Edward’s Historic Preservation Leader, Susan Turner, was tasked to provide a structural sufficiency determination of the Hanson Park Field House. Cracks in the masonry and brick, openings in the roof, falling roof purlins, all boded ill for the buildings future.

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The abandoned building had suffered from a variety of unintended users, from after-school kids who left abandoned toys to a homeless resident who had since vacated the private office. In exploring the unlit basement, our fearless surveyors, including Susan and Clark Baurer, our structural engineering consultant, were startled by skittering creatures in the dark. The noise turned out to be a family of territorial squirrels that had staked out the Hanson Park Field House as their home. They were aggressively chittering and charging, determined not to let anyone infringe on their turf.

Ultimately, though the squirrels had set up residence and the evident signs of distress, structurally the building is in good shape. The center portion of the building, which is the most historically significant, appeared to be in good repair and with modest repairs to stop water infiltration issues, the building can be utilized for many years to come, but not by the squirrels.

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