Few moments are as beautiful as a summer’s afternoon or evening wedding in the Sunken Garden at Allerton Park. Actually, any chosen wedding location within The Park provides a dream wedding backdrop. But photographs can hide the 100 degree, sultry, hot airless Sunken Garden in July.
Robert Allerton held a weekend house party at The Farms July 29-31,1910. He invited mostly Chicago-ites. Hopefully the weather the last weekend of July, 1910 was as glorious as July 29-31, 2017. The previous weekends during July, 2017 have been beastly hot and humid.
The August 10, 1910, Madame X social column “Recent Activities in the Society World” in the Chicago Daily Tribune described the view:
“he included among its many charms and unique features an oblong pool on the terrace close to the house. Its waters reflect the red brick and stone trimmings and ledges of the house. At each end of the edge are two Italian green bronze cupids, or water sprites, who preside over the aquatics revels which take place whenever Mr. Allerton has a house party. The swimmers in the pool look out over the downward sloping terrace across the artificial lake which lies below, to broad fields which compose the Allerton farms, one of the largest and most profitable in the west.”
The weekend of July 7-9, 2017, was a busy one at the Park. According to posted signage, The House hosted the University of Illinois School of Medicine. On Saturday afternoon, the Fu Dog Gazebo and Sunken Garden each hosted 2:00 weddings. The bride’s attendants at the Sunken Garden wedding wore ground length, fitted strapless gowns in a beautiful shade of sky blue. Against the background of white pillars adorned with gleaming gold dragon fish and the neatly groomed spruce trees, the contrasting white bridal gown provided the jewel of this dream shot. Except – it was becoming hot, quickly, in the full sun. Same with the Fu Dog Gazebo garden set up.
During summer’s heat, The Park offers a mostly shaded road for exercise walking. Good visibility is still necessary as distracted drivers prevail behind the wheel. Bright colored shirts, reflective vests, or combination of both will offer a visual alert to every driver. Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road and ride with the flow of traffic. Rules of the Road directs walkers and runners to use sidewalks where available. When a sidewalk is not present, pedestrians must walk to meet oncoming traffic in their lane. Do not walk with traffic approaching from behind, especially wearing headphones. Walk on the shoulder of the the road or at the edge of the road. Approaching vehicles must yield to the pedestrian.
For a nice exercise walk, the round trip from the Visitor’s Center to Allerton Road (East Entrance) is a little more than 5 kilometers, or about miles. The road surface is even. The road accommodates car and foot traffic to share the space. Posted speed limit is 25 mph. Few drivers obey this speed.
On this day, a man and woman stood staring at the Visitors’ Center map. They had passed by on a motorcycle. He hailed “Hey, Can you show us where we are on this map?”
This brief orientation included pointing the way toward the Sunken Garden, and Sunsinger (to the west), the House (straight ahead) and the Fu Dogs (to the left). Since they’d passed by the gazebo on their entry into The Park, they had already noted the wedding. Upon hearing about the wedding at the Sunken Garden and an event at The House, they were disappointed to discover these areas were in use for private events. On their way through Monticello the couple had stopped at The Monarch Brewing Company, in the former Methodist Church, hoping to get a burger and beer. Instead, it was “Closed” for a wedding, too.
- It is the Wedding Season. The picture perfect wedding – like today. This is the Park’s bread and butter season!
The couple had no idea The Park and House had become a wedding destination. They were on a motorcycle trip to visit childhood haunts.
They were having fun. While the House and Gardens haven’t changed much in the intervening 60 or 70 years since they were campers. A visit to the current 4H Camp would be a much different story! What a campers’ paradise with a positive, challenging and safe environment for every camper. 4-H Camp has been a life-changing experience for many – including this happy couple.
In doing the math, the man must have been one of the 4H Camp’s early campers. Born in 1942, now 75, he would have been the right age when the 4H Camp opened for its first campers in 1950.
The couple headed on foot through the Formal Garden toward The House – looking for memories on their motorcycle trip to old times’ sake.