Located in the South Shore community, South Shore Cultural Center (formerly the South Shore Country Club) is a cultural facility that has been recognized as a Chicago Landmark (2004) and is also listed on the National Register (1975). This cultural haven was founded in 1905 and later rebuilt in 1916. Bought by the Chicago Park District in 1975, this historic building was restored as a historic landmark after a massive community campaign led by the Chicago Park District and historic preservationists. South Shore Cultural Center totals 64.50 acres. With its magnificent country club-like interior,this facility features a solarium, formal dining hall, Paul Robeson Theater, Washburne Culinary Institute, and the Parrot Cage Restaurant. Green features of the park include a nature sanctuary and a butterfly garden. Outside, the park offers a nine-hole golf course, beach, and open spaces for picnics and walks. Many of these spaces are available for rental including our solarium, dining room, theater, and fields. Park-goers can participate in variety of cultural programs and classes for all ages in dance, music, art, health, culinary arts, fitness, and more. South Shore has recently added new adult art classes including textile art, drawing & painting, mixed media art, and ceramics.
After school programs are offered throughout the school year, and during the summer, youth attend the Chicago Park District’s popular six-week day camp.
In addition to programs, South Shore Cultural Center hosts fun special events throughout the year for the entire family, such as holiday-themed events.
South Shore Cultural Center Arts Partners:
As the gem of the South Lakefront, South Shore Cultural Center is proud to offer a variety of culturally rich programs to the surrounding community. These programs would not be possible without the successful partnerships that have been nurtured with the following organizations. For more information about these partnerships and programs, call the South Shore Cultural Center.
Country Western Line Dance: (773.933.1951), Triple H. Productions: (773) 768-6276, Steppin: National Steppers Society, (312) 259-1443, Ballet & Jazz: Iona Calhoun, (312) 493-5698, Hatha Yoga: Jamila Onyeali, (773) 493-4840 - Sheelah Muhammad, (773) 752-5289, Ceramics: Talonna Sharp, (773) 256-0946, Chicago Music Association Branch No. 1: Barbara Wright-Pryor, (773) 721-3210, Cooking classes: Washburne Culinary Institute, (773) 602-5487
South Shore Beach
South Shore Beach is part of the South Shore Cultural Center, which is considered to be the jewel of the neighborhood. The site is a 65-acre park with a golf course, tennis courts, a pool, and an elaborate, refurbished clubhouse. The clubhouse is surrounded by the golf course, and sits back from the beach area. The site also has a circular beach house with concessions, restrooms, and showers, and it is located just to the east of the clubhouse on the beach. As of 2001, South Shore also has its own Nature Sanctuary, and visitors can walk along a boardwalk near the beach, and observe the emerging sand dunes, a small wetland, prairie landscape, and a variety of wildlife in the area.
The South Shore Cultural Center, a 65-acre park with a golf course, tennis courts, a bathing beach, and an impressive building, originated as the South Shore Country Club. In 1905, Lawrence Heyworth, president of the downtown Chicago Athletic Club, envisioned an exclusive club with a "country setting." Heyworth selected unimproved south lakefront property, often used for fishing and duck hunting, for the new country club.
The club's directors hired architects Marshall and Fox, later known for designing many of Chicago's most luxurious hotel and apartment buildings, including the Drake Hotel. For inspiration, Heyworth provided a photograph of an old private club in Mexico City, but asked the architects to exclude expensive embellishments. As the club could not yet collect dues, work had to proceed quickly and inexpensively. To this end, members Marshall Field and A. Montgomery Ward lent their store delivery wagons to transport turf, sod, and trees. Mr. Worcester, Vice-President of the Peoples Gas Company, put in lighting for the grounds and clubhouse.
Enjoying immediate success and social importance, South Shore Country Club quickly outgrew its facilities. Marshall and Fox were hired to build a new clubhouse, incorporating the original ballroom. Constructed in 1916, the larger and more substantial reinforced concrete building, like the original, was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style. The country club's membership peaked in the late 1950s. Simultaneously, many African-Americans began settling in South Shore. Because the private club excluded black members, it went out of business in the 1970s.
In 1974, the Chicago Park District purchased the property to expand its lakefront facilities. The park district planned to demolish the severely-deteriorated clubhouse. However, community members rallied together to save the historic building. Rehabilitating the clubhouse as a cultural center in the late 1970s, the park district has since restored other historic features including the front colonnade, entry gate and stables.