The Lily Pool “Refresh” Project

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As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, the Conservancy is excited to undertake several improvement projects with our Chicago Park District partners prior to the Lily Pool’s spring opening.    

As frequent visitors to the Lily Pool have likely noticed, we’ve been experiencing drainage issues which have made portions of the Lily Pool, especially the historic pavilions, inaccessible at times. We’re happy to report that this issue has been corrected thanks to a clearing of 20-years-worth of organic matter and roots that were blocking the main drainage system for the site. Going forward, we plan to budget for regular clearing of this system to prevent such occurrences in the future.  In addition to the drain work, the Chicago Park District coordinated the removal of a few dead or damaged trees earlier in January.  These trees posed safety hazards to visitors and nature. With their removal, we will be able to add additional native trees in their place this spring and fall.   

Keen observers may have also noticed that the two historic pavilions are showing signs of sagging in their roofs. Thankfully, a complete structural assessment completed last fall indicates that, in general, the pavilions are structurally sound, but need their roof structures replaced.  We are currently working to select a contractor for the project, which is planned for later this year.    

Additional improvements planned throughout the year include sprucing up both the east and main entrances, improved signage, and additional security measures to prevent unintended usage and vandalism which, unfortunately, have increased in the past few years.    

The Lily Pool makes a unique venue for hosting small weddings, engagement or photo sessions, while related revenue helps us keep the Lily Pool looking beautiful. As the long-term stewards of this National Historic Landmark, we rely on our amazing community to help us in our work. If you’re interested in supporting the Lily Pool through a donation, volunteering to help us steward it, or in securing an event or photography permit, email us at: 

Our work to ensure that Chicago’s largest park remains a world-class destination wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our donors. Thank you to the following community members for making improvements to the historic Lily Pool possible:   

  • The Jentes Family 
  • The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation 
  • Norm and Helene Raidl 
  • Andrew R. & Janet F. Miller Foundation 
  • John Notz, Jr. and Janis Wellin Notz
  • Marsha Gale 


We hope to see you in the Lily Pool when it opens to the public in late April.  Stay tuned to later newsletters and our web site this spring for 2023’s official opening date. 



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