Wheaton parks working to restore Hurley Gardens to former glory

  • Wheaton Park District employees prepare to lay sod surrounding the newly landscaped reflecting pool in Hurley Gardens off Roosevelt Road in the Adare Farm subdivision in Wheaton.

    Wheaton Park District employees prepare to lay sod surrounding the newly landscaped reflecting pool in Hurley Gardens off Roosevelt Road in the Adare Farm subdivision in Wheaton. Photo Courtesy Sharon Huck

 
 
Published11/12/2007 12:01 AM

Hurley Gardens, a secluded park in the Adare Farm subdivision of Wheaton, has seen its share of formal gowns and tuxedos. When it was part of the 160-acre estate of millionaire Edward Hurley, one can only imagine the parties in the teahouse and gazebo.

Perhaps flappers and their beaus danced the Charleston along the paths then took a dip in the swimming pool.

 

Today the gowns and tuxes are worn by dozens of prom goers and bridal parties. A reflecting pool replaces the swimming pool, but the formal Italian-style gardens and shining white gazebo and teahouse still stand, all providing the perfect photographic backdrop.

In recent years Hurley Gardens had become a little seedy through neglect, but the Wheaton Park District is restoring it to its former glory.

"It's a complete parks department project," said Deb Seymour, head horticulturist for the district. "Every group was involved. The projects crew worked on the building and did the pond work. The operations crew did all of the paving and walls. The horticulture crew did all of the new plantings."

The site was named a Wheaton Historic Site in 1991. The gardens, loggia, and gazebo were designed in 1910-1913 by an Italian landscape architect inspired by the Neoclassical Revival style made popular by Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition.

"We're trying to respect the historical preservation," Seymour added. "We kept with the original Italian motif, keeping the formal straight lines."

Workers completed Phase 1 last year. The buildings were repaired and painted. A lighted sign was installed along with new seating. The garden was replanted. Boxwoods line the paths. Alberta spruce serve as focal points on the corners of the buildings. Rows of upright yew back oak-leaf hydrangeas. Four large Italianate planters hold a variety of colorful annuals. The design, though restrained, is beautifully serene.

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Phase 2 nears completion as the paths are laid and the corner walls are built. A crew is currently installing sod.

Matt Alexander, a member of the operations crew who has worked almost daily on the project, said that the new Yorkstone pavers, a new concept from Unilock, fit in with the buildings' color and style.

"We've had neighbors come out to compliment us," he said. "They're happy with the progress. We're seeing more walkers through here which is good."

The stone path includes a handicap accessible stone walled ramp from the street level to the fountain now shut off for the winter.

And what a fountain! When prom season rolls around, seven different spray heads and colored lights, all run by a computer, will provide the perfect photo backdrop.

"It's a dancing waters display," said Paul Stanczak, park service manager. "The old one just had an aerator. This one will be far more visual."

Phase 3 will finish the project. Behind the reflecting pool, a pergola or arbor will cover the stone octagon patio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's our vision," Seymour said. "This is pending board approval."

The final plan is to resurface and cap off the wall behind the pergola in a style similar to the teahouse, possibly matching its colorful tiles.

"This has been our pet project for the last couple years," Stanczak said. "I have to tip my hat to our first-year executive director, Mike Bernard. He supported us in our work. We're very proud of it."

He added, "It's the loveliest park that no one knows about. It's tucked away. If you want some place to sit and relax, that's the place."

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