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A Field Guide to Allerton Park

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FC: A Field Guide to Allerton Park by Emily Edbrooke, Ashley Kitson, & Kelsie Lomax

1: A Brief History Allerton Park, formerly known as “The Farms”, once belonged to a wealthy landowner in Illinois named Samuel Allerton, who later gave the land to his son, Robert Allerton. Though he enjoyed the Illinois landscape, Robert’s true passion was art. Using Allerton’s 1500 acre woodland, meadow, and prairie, Robert sought to combine elements of art and nature as he believed the two complemented one another. Robert and his protégé, John Gregg, spent decades creating a place that both accentuated the natural beauty of the land and served as an outdoor art gallery for the many sculptures Robert obtained from all over the world. Today, Allerton Park is maintained by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The property's mansion is used as a retreat and conference center while the natural landscape is used by the University for educational purposes. Over 100,000 people visit the park each year to feast their eyes upon one of the seven wonders of Illinois.

2: House of the Golden Buddhas

3: A popular spot for outdoor weddings, The House of the Golden Buddhas is located near the south entrance to the park. The structure itself was built in 1932 and is placed approximately 100 feet from the woodland to allow sunlight for the plants attached to it. In the summer of 2008, extensive restorations were made to the house. The roof was replaced, the exterior and interior repainted, and the stairwell and trim repaired and repainted.

4: In 1929, Robert and his protégé, John, took a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. They decided to purchase two Siamese Buddhas there. The sculptures are made from teakwood. The Buddha below is demonstrating the pose of "calming the waters" while the meaning of the pose to the right is unknown.

5: In the early 1930s, Robert went to Paris, France, to buy a plaster cast of the Hari-Hara (pictured above) from an Asian-inspired art museum called Musée Guimet. After creating a stone statue from the cast, he donated it to the Art Institute of Chicago.

6: Fu Dog Garden

7: Created in 1932, The Fu Dog Garden consists of 22 blue ceramic statues. These statues are sometimes called "Chinese Guardian Lions" and are sacred in Buddhism. They symbolize prosperity and status.

8: Sea Maidens | Pictured left, The Sea Maiden statues were brought to the park in 1930 from Hamburg, Germany. The statues were originally made by Richard Kuohl. Pictured right, The Girl With a Scarf sculpture was first seen by Robert at the Art Institute of Chicago. This was the last statue purchased by Robert and was brought to the park in 1942.

9: Girl With a Scarf

10: The construction of the Allerton mansion was started in 1899 and was completed in 1900. Head architect for the project was John Borie who specialized in Gargoyles.

11: Mansion and Meadow | Pictured above, the reflecting pond was used by Robert and his friends for recreational swimming. Beyond the reflecting pond lies the expansive Allerton meadow. The meadow is also a popular location for weddings.

12: Primitive Man In 1921,Robert's butler, Ted Page, posed for the plaster cast that was used to create the Primitive Man. In 1922, Robert paid Charles Laing to create a large scale version in limestone.

13: Limestone Sphinx Designed by the mansion architect, John Borie, the pair of limestone sphinxes face the house. Robert did not want to see their haunches!

14: The Grounds

15: Adam The original Adam was created by a French artist named Francois Auguste-Rene Rodin. In 1924, Robert bought a stone reproduction of the statue from Charles Laing, a stone mason from Chicago. Sadly, the sculpture was damaged during transportation to the park. A replacement was furnished in 1975 by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

16: Goldfish | Pictured above is one of the many goldfish that line the path to the Adam statue. No longer functioning, they were once fountains.

17: The Three Graces | Pictured above are The Three Graces. They represent beauty, mirth, and good cheer. Robert had two created, one for The Farms and one for his aunt's grave.

18: Chinese Musicians Pictured above is the Avenue of The Chinese Musicians that leads to the Sunken Garden. There are 12 limestone sculptures. In the early 1920s, Robert purchased 10 of them in England while 2 were made by a local tombstone carver.

19: A Smile As Sweet As Spring | Sunken Garden Until 1915, The Sunken Garden was a place for Robert to throw his garbage. After 1915, construction of the gardens lasted until 1917. Today, the Sunken Garden serves as one of the most popular locations in the park for weddings and other important events.

20: Death of the Last Centaur

21: Four Pillars | Pictured above are the four pillars. There are two sets of them framing The Death of the Last Centaur - one on the north side and one on the south side. Pictured left is the Death of the Last Centaur. The sculpture was created in 1914 by Émile Antoine Bourdelle. Bits of gold were included in the bronze casting used to create it. The statue itself represents an artist who is dying because no one longer believes in him.

22: The Sun Singer

23: The Sun Singer arrived at the park in 1931. The sculpture's creation was commissioned by Robert in 1929. Wanting a miniature version of the original to place beneath his bedroom window, he was quite shocked to receive an exact replica of the original statue! He then had to buy more land and asked his protégé, John, to create a base for the sculpture. | by Carl Milles (1875-1955)

24: Nature's Bounty | Tiger Beetle

25: At Allerton, nature is abundant at every turn. Here are some of the things you might encounter: | Monarch Butterfly

26: The Lost Garden | During the mid 1930s, Robert and John had the idea to create one last garden, The Lost Garden. It was here that they spent many afternoons enjoying tea. Complete with a tea house and several sculptures, the structures have since then been removed because of vandalism.

27: Conservation | Admission to Allerton park is free. In order to maintain the park's beauty and keep admission free for everyone for years to come, donations are greatly encouraged and appreciated. Pictured above is one of the many examples of vandalism in the park. Preserving this important piece of Illinois' history doesn't come without a price. If interested in donating, there are four kiosks around the park with lock boxes. Donations can also be made at the visitor center or online at

28: Contributers Pictured left to right: Emily Edbrooke - Junior Elementary Education Major at Millikin University Ashley Kitson - Sophomore Elementary Education Major at Millikin University Kelsie Lomax - Sophomore Elementary Education Major at Millikin University

29: Works Cited Allerton park & retreat center. (n.d.). Retrieved from Burgin, M., & Holtz, M. (2009). Robert allerton: The private man, the public gifts. Champaign, IL: The News Gazette. Holtz, M. (2011). Allerton's paradises. Champaign, IL: The News Gazette. Leetaru, K. (n.d.). Allerton park: A uhistories project. Retrieved from

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