Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Discover Caldwell’s Hidden Garden

As Featured On:

Hidden Garden

Step through the Prairie-style Fullerton gate and enter a hidden garden of unmatched beauty. Only bird songs and the sound of a gentle waterfall break the restful silence. Follow the stone walk encircling the lily pool and discover a pavilion, council ring, and diverse native plantings. This is the vision of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell: a hidden garden for the people of Chicago designed to resemble a river meandering through a great Midwestern prairie.

The Lily Pool gravel pathway on the east side of the site is partially ADA accessible, and visitors should be aware that the stone pathway on the west side includes some steps up and down. Both sides of the path have a slight incline and decline.


The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool will remain closed as we complete critical maintenance on the site’s historic pavilion.

Please read our latest blog regarding the ongoing maintenance.

Stay tuned to our website, social media, and newsletter for updates and an official opening date.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work diligently to preserve this National and Chicago Historic Landmark for everyone to enjoy!

Daily from mid-April through October 8, 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. or dusk (whichever is sooner)

The Lily Pool is closed on the following dates:

  • 4th of July Weekend – Friday, June 30 through Tuesday, July 4
  • Air and Water Show Weekend – Friday, August 18 through Sunday, August, 20
  • Sunday, September 24, 3-5 p.m.
  • Closed for the season, at dusk, Sunday, October 8

125 W. Fullerton Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614

Events & Photo Permits
"Passing through the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and it is packed with visitors reading, meditating, photographing... absorbing the upcoming rituals of fall. Great to be a part of all this specialness."
Patricia B.

The History

The site of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889 that displayed tropical lilies and other aquatic plants. When the Victorian-style garden fell out of popularity, the Lily Pool fell into disrepair until 1936 when Alfred Caldwell redesigned the pool and its surrounding area.

By the 1950s, Caldwell’s 1936 Lily Pool design deteriorated and was loaned to the Lincoln Park Zoo as an avian exhibit known as “The Rookery”. This caused further deterioration and , eventually, the zoo no longer required it. The Chicago Park District closed the site to the public for many years. Weedy trees and shrubs grew unchecked, stonework broke, hillsides eroded, wildflowers died, and the pool filled with debris until the Lincoln Park Conservancy came to its rescue. We raised &1.1 million in private funding for the project and the Chicago Park District allocated $1.3 million from its capital budget.

National Historic Status

Designated on February 17, 2006

Chicago Landmark Status

Designated on November 6, 2002


2.7 Acres

Project Awards

  • City of Chicago Office of the Mayor, 2003 Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence – Landscape Restoration.
  • The American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter – 2003 Distinguished Building Award – Special Recognition for Restoration of Pavilion and Entry Gate
  • American Society of Landscape Architects, Illinois Chapter – Honor Award for Rehabilitation of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
  • Richard H. Driehaus Foundation 2002 Preservation Award for Landscape Restoration.
Alfred Caldwell portrait by Helen Balfour Morrison, copyright The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, Northbrook, IL, 2015.
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