Charles Ware Memorial Garden
The Charles A. Ware Memorial Garden has been a part of Kenilworth for over 75 years. Kenilworth Garden Club has been associated with Ware Garden since it's establishment. It is located on the northwest corner of Kenilworth Avenue and Warwick Road in Kenilworth.
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The Charles Ware Memorial Garden: The Heart and Soul of Kenilworth, Illinois
Nestled on a corner on Kenilworth’s main residential avenue, between Lake Michigan and an ancient Indian Trail, is The Charles Ware Memorial Garden. Natural beauty was a key feature of Joseph Sears’ vision for his “City Beautiful Movement”-inspired, turn-of-the-19th Century planned community, The Village of Kenilworth, home of The Kenilworth Garden Club.
Several parks were to eventually become part of Kenilworth. One of the most beautiful is The Charles Ware Memorial Garden, established by KGC member Mrs. Charles Ware (Fannie) when the Kenilworth Union Church sold off part of its property to Mrs. Ware in 1938. She seized the chance to help both her church and to honor the memory of her late husband.
From its inception, KGC and Ware Garden have been inextricably intertwined. Fannie Ware enlisted her friend and fellow KGC member, Mrs. Stanley Ball, on the project and they collaborated with landscape architect Donald Gray of Cleveland to create a garden for all four seasons—not just for our short Northern Illinois summer. To accomplish this feat, they installed 45 fruit, flowering, deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs and roses. The Garden was formally dedicated almost 75 years ago June 11, 1939.
KGC voted to maintain the garden after Fannie’s death, and it has been our primary project ever since. Gardening is never static, and that was certainly the case with the Village of Kenilworth, Ware Garden, the Kenilworth Union Church and KGC. During the 1970s, Kenilworth Union Church’s needs changed and the congregation wished to reclaim that corner for a memorial park.
We helped facilitate a trade for land across the street from the “original” Ware Garden. In 1980 garden designer Catherine Cole Church designed a “new Ware Garden” plan for a passive park, consisting of natural woodland with adjoining lawn, bordered by flowering trees, shrubs and groundcover. Later improvements included installing a fountain surrounded by a rose garden; laying an irrigation system; establishing a wildlife habitat with native plants; and creating “user friendly paths”. In 2017, after five years of careful renovation advised by garden designer Charlotte Blome, KGC completed restoration of the woodland area of the garden to its natural state. We look forward to welcoming future generations to this special part of Kenilworth.
Over the years, KGC members have weeded, trimmed, planted, improved, and supported the garden. It is one of our major outreach projects, our GCA Centennial Tree Project, and is loved by all. It has become an important part of the community during all four seasons witnessing weddings, children exploring, visitors sitting in quiet meditation, as well as community events, and the camaraderie of fellow garden club members spending time together in nature. We invite you to visit the Charles A. Ware Memorial Garden on the northwest corner of Kenilworth Avenue and Warwick Road.