Cheney Mansion Phase One Improvements
Oak Park, Illinois
Park District of Oak Park
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. (WLA) was hired by the Park District of Oak Park (PDOP) in 2009 to prepare a master plan for the ground of the historic Cheney Mansion. WLA engaged the community in a series of meetings and produced a plan prioritizing improvements that could be implemented in phases as funds became available.
The most pressing need was for Cheney Mansion to be made universally accessible and hence compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was no way for a person of limited mobility to access the Mansion, as one had to climb several small flights of stairs to reach the front door. WLA designed a curving sloped walk to weave seamlessly through planting beds at the front of the house, granting barrier-free access to verandah, and sunroom beyond, from which the rest of the first floor can be accessed with ease, leaving the historic façade unchanged.
The sidewalks around the Mansion were once made entirely of beautiful slate slabs, most of which had fallen into disrepair, resulting in an uneven, hazardous surface. WLA documented the condition of the remaining slate slabs and identified 100 linear feet of useable stone, which was relocated to form the sidewalk at the front of the Mansion near the main entrance.
The Mansion is home to many events, both public and private, throughout the year, resulting in ad hoc signage being attached to the existing wrought iron fence near the Mansion entrance. WLA and Grafx Communication Group, Inc. designed a freestanding, lighted sign structure and display cabinet to house temporary flyers and event postings while providing permanent Cheney Mansion identification. The structure of the sign was designed to match the existing ornamental fence work on site.