Veterans' Memorial Park  |  109 Depot St.

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History of Veteran's Memorial Park

Veterans' Memorial Park was established in 1913 when the ladies of the New Century Club signed a lease with the railroad for the right-of-way land which has been occupied by the Mutual Lumber Co. The railroad assisted the ladies in their plans for "a park that will afford a place for band concerts in the summer, a place for people coming into town to come and rest". The original Veterans' Memorial Park was home to a small gazebo and water fountain. As of 1972 the original 1913 gazebo and fountain in Veterans' Memorial Park were destroyed.  The current gazebo in Veterans' Memorial Park was built in the 1990s as a memorial. 

The Union Depot (1903), which has been restored and adapted into a museum, is directly across Main Street from Veterans' Memorial Park, and the H&TC Freight Depot (1872) is adjacent to the park and is currently the home of the Greater Elgin Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Center.

As a part of the 2013 - 2015 Sustainable Places Plan, the City of Elgin purchased additional lots along the Union Pacific Railroad line between Avenue C and Avenue A, making Veterans' Park a full 5 acres. Based on input from the community during the Sustainable Places Plan feedback and feedback provided in 2020-2021 for the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, improvements for the Veterans' Park Expansion Project are proposed below. 

Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Project Overview

The Veterans’ Park Expansion Project consists of four blocks in the heart of Elgin’s Historic District, converting undeveloped city owned vacant lots into modern, accessible, vibrant parkland. Asphalt lots will be transformed to a playground and gathering spaces surrounded by native plantings and natural shade elements. This project focuses on creating a central point for the Elgin community, bridging a historically segregated area, beginning with breaking ground on Block A in 2023. The elements throughout the four blocks were selected from the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan, written in conjunction with feedback from the community and partner organizations such as the Advocacy Outreach, VFW, and Down Home Ranch.

A new, engaging park provides a central location for the Parks & Recreation Department and community organizations to activate the park with events, programs, classes and more. The Hogeye Festival, Elgin Farmer’s Market, and Juneteenth Festival all use the existing Veterans’ Park as the backdrop of their events. By providing new amenities, more space, and high-quality parkland, these events will grow and evolve to draw in Elgin’s residents, new and old, to celebrate life in Elgin. 

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Veterans Memorial Park Expansion Project
Proposed Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Map - Studio 16:19 September 2022.
1871 Train

Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Inspiration

Created at the turn of the century by the Ladies New Century Club of Elgin, Veterans’ Memorial Park has been a fixture in Elgin’s historic downtown for over one hundred years. The Veterans’ Memorial Park Expansion is a significant step towards creating a unified space on both the north and south sides of the railroad tracks inviting the whole community to enjoy public spaces.

The Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Project draws inspiration from Elgin's history, including play elements that allude to the railroad that founded Elgin in 1872, natural elements that support native flora and fauna and interactive water elements that references the water fountain created by the Women's New Century Club in the original Veterans' Park. 

The City Council retained Studio 16:19 for professional design services on July 5th,2022. Their contract includes 30% design services for all four blocks of the park expansion and full construction documents for Block A the 200 Block of Depot Street. The 30% schematics will be complete in November 2022, and the City of Elgin will have construction documents for the 200 Block of Depot Street to advertise for bids in March 2023. 

Park Elements 2

Inspiration Images for Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Project Elements - Studio 16:19 September 2022.

Park Elements 1

Inspiration Images for Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Project Elements - Studio 16:19 September 2022.

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Proposed Playground Equipment for Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion Project - Kompan

2021 Grant Proposal Video for Veterans' Memorial Park Expansion

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