The Lily Pool is a 1937 prairie school landscape designed by Alfred Caldwell, a student of Jens Jensen. As early as the 1940s the Lily Pool had begun to deteriorate; it became a rookery, home to Lincoln Park Zoo’s waterfowl collection, it underwent a 1960s restoration that added stonework and inappropriate modern furnishings, and it became too shady and overgrown to sustain the original plantings.
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. was retained by the Friends of Lincoln Park to develop a restoration plan that would generate support from the Chicago Park District, the surrounding community, and special interest groups (historic landscape preservationists, birders, disability rights advocates, etc.) interested in the site. This plan was prepared and approved in 1998. The landscape architect was then retained by the Chicago Park District to provide services from schematic design through contract documentation and construction. Elements of the plan include tree removal and pruning; removal of inappropriate additions (signage, lighting, furnishings, etc.); expansion of the fence and site boundaries to increase bird habitat; restoration of one walk and development of another to the council ring for handicap accessibility; restoration of the Fullerton Avenue gate and the pavilion; restoration of the landscape, including tree, shrub, and perennial planting; and pond dredging for water quality improvements.
The restoration of the Lily Pool, with a $2.3 million construction budget, was completed in 2001. The project received an Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award in 2001. In 2002, it also received the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Landscape Preservation from the Illinois Landmarks Preservation Council.