Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Standish Park

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Institution Name: Knox College
Original/Historic Place Name: Standish Park
Location on Campus: 2 city blocks bounded by Tompkins, Cherry, South, and Cedar St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1830sidentification of rural lots as "Midwestern village green"
ca. 1900sarboretum Standish, John van Ness
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Other characteristics:
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (site of county courthouse)
ca. 2004-present (2007)outdoor space (city park)

Significance: architecture, education
Landmark designation:
National RegisterKnox County Courthouse and Hall of Records (1992)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Originally a part of the Knox College campus, the lots now known as Standish Park were fenced off by the College's founders in the 1830s as a sort of Midwestern village green that would remain a central feature of a rural campus. Several generations of church, academic, and public buildings have occupied the lots surrounding Standish Park since then. The park itself, by accident or by design, has emerged and remained as the center of outdoor civic life in the community as it became a city park and as the nearby public square was cut off by heavy automobile traffic. Today, four significant 19th-century buildings--Knox College's Old Main and Alumni Hall, the Knox County Courthouse, and Whiting Hall--are in or immediately adjacent to Standish Park.

In the early 20th century, Standish Park was transformed into an arboretum with specimens of trees and shrubbery arranged in an elaborate landscape by Lombard College biology professor John van Ness Standish. Many of these plantings survive today.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Knox County Courthouse and Hall of Records [Knox College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1992.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006