Cheney Mansion Site Master Plan
Oak Park, Illinois
Park District of Oak Park
Cheney Mansion is an historic house and grounds owned and operated by the Park District of Oak Park. The mansion and buildings were designed by Charles W. White, and the grounds may have been designed by Jens Jensen, who worked frequently with White and also did several projects in the “mansion district” of Oak Park. There is, however, no definitive information regarding Jensen’s involvement.
The Site Master Plan is a document used by the Park District of Oak Park (PDOP) to plan for future development and capital improvements at all of its properties. At Cheney Mansion the PDOP engaged Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. (WLA) for this task, including review, evaluation, and recommendation of the appropriate preservation treatment(s); incorporation of accessibility improvement; accommodation of new program elements and activities; minimizing adverse impacts on the historic building and landscape; and estimation of capital costs.
The landscape architect led a community-based planning process that started with focus groups, to identify areas and issues of concern, desire for new programs or elements or activities, perceived opportunities and constraints, and general areas of agreement. This was followed by three community meetings. The first meeting included no design or program ideas, presented only site analysis, and sought public input on the same areas. At the second meeting alternative conceptual designs were presented and evaluated, and the community’s thoughts and opinions were articulated. Having obtained significant input and developed a general consensus, the third community meeting presented a preliminary Site Master Plan with only minor alternatives. These were resolved prior to the final presentation to the PDOP Board. The Site Master Plan process began in August 2009 and was completed and approved by the Board of the Park District of Oak Park in January 2010.