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North Park Village Collection

Identifier: nnhc-00039

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the establishment of North Park Village at the site of Chicago’s former Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. It covers both initial and ongoing efforts of local people to oppose commercial development on the site, including the successful creation of a conservation easement. The collection also covers their work to establish a nature center, senior housing, a health center, a gymnasium, and other community resources at North Park Village.

The collection contains a significant amount of administrative records from the North Park Village Advisory Council, including meeting minutes, agendas, and correspondence. Correspondents include members of the Advisory Council and its many subcommittees, City of Chicago administrators, and leaders of other local groups and organizations. There are also a significant number of planning documents for the various projects that North Park Village leaders pursued, such as the health center and senior housing. The planning documents include reports, proposals, and site maps. The collection also includes promotional material such as fliers, event calendars, press releases, brochures, and newsletters, which provide information on events and activities at North Park Village. There are also clippings from local newspapers that document projects and events and a small number of photographs, mostly of the nature center and outdoor areas.


  • 1915 - 2007

Conditions Governing Access

Most of the materials are open without restrictions. Access to Subseries B of Series 7 is restricted. Contact staff for more details.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

Chicago’s Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (MTS) opened in 1915 on the northwest side of the city on land donated by Pehr Peterson, a Swedish immigrant who had previously used the land as a tree orchard. At the time, fresh air and open space were considered important factors for treating tuberculosis, so the land was well-suited to its new use. By the 1970s, medical advances meant that declining numbers of people needed to visit sanitariums for treatment, and the MTS closed at the end of 1974. Shortly before that, in November 1973, developer Harry Chaddick proposed converting the nearly 160 acre MTS site in to a shopping complex and high rise apartments. This plan was strongly opposed by many area residents and local groups, including the North River Commission, an umbrella organization for local community groups that was founded in 1962. With the support of the North River Commission and other local groups, the North River Coalition to Save the MTS Site was created.

Northsiders opposed to commercial development on the MTS site attended meetings with city officials, wrote letters, surveyed local residents, held rallies, and researched alternative possibilities for the site. Their proposed uses for the land emphasized preserving open space and serving senior citizens. In 1975, Mayor Richard J. Daley proposed a plan for the site that incorporated many of the North River Coalition’s proposals, such as open space, a park, senior housing, and a health center. While the following decades continued to see disagreements and debates over the use of the land, many of these projects eventually became part of North Park Village, and the emphasis remained on open space rather than commercial development.

A groundbreaking for Pehr Peterson Park was held in 1977 on the former MTS grounds, and the area was officially given the name North Park Village in February 1979. In the next decade, two senior housing complexes and a health center opened, programs and events were held at the Nature Center, and plans began to renovate the MTS theater building.

In 1988, Mayor Eugene Sawyer announced the creation of a conservation easement that would prohibit development on over 100 acres of land within North Park Village. Rights for the land protected by the conservation easement were transferred to Open Lands, a local environmental non-profit. In exchange, it was agreed that the city would develop 12 acres in the southwest corner of North Park Village with the hope of raising revenues to offset costs of maintaining the rest of the village. Initially the conservation easement had a 75-year limit, but it was made permanent in 2020.


14 Linear Feet (in 29 boxes (including photographs), includes 3 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



North Park Village is located on the grounds of what was once Chicago’s Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, covering nearly 160 acres on the northwest side of the city. It includes a nature center, senior housing, a gymnasium, and other community resources. The collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, planning documents, event fliers, news clippings, historical material, brochures, photographs, and other records that document the site’s transformation from a sanitarium to a village and nature center within Chicago.


North Park Village’s longtime historian, Rose Wandel, had a detailed, subject-based system for organizing the Village’s archives. For the most part, that order has been maintained. When it arrived at the archives, much of the material was organized in to binders that correspond to the series listed below. The topics were also assigned letters (A-Z, skipping Q) that correspond to the order they are listed in below. In general, topics at the beginning of the list contain significantly more files than those at the end. Within each topic, in most cases the files were organized roughly chronologically.

The topical organizational scheme, its original order, and the chronological order within each topic have generally all been maintained. This means the collection is organized in the following series:

Series 1: Advisory Council, 1973-2007, undated

Series 2: History, 1915-2005, undated

Series 3: Nature Center, 1974-2007

Series 4: Theater and Gymnasium, 1975-1999

Series 5: Health Center, 1972-2006

Series 6: City Plans, 1973-2000

Series 7: Housing, 1968-1997

Series 8: Open Lands, 1974-2006, undated

Series 9: Pehr Peterson Park, 1972-2005

Series 10: Greenhouses and Gardens, 1979-1995

Series 11: Senate Apartments, 1979-2006

Series 12: Northside Learning Center, 1978-1998

Series 13: United States Forest Service, 1975-1990

Series 14: Parking, 1990-1991

Series 15: Community Plans and Interests, 1973-2003

Series 16: Security, 1981-1994

Series 17: Transportation, 1982-1997

Series 18: North Park Village Master Plans, 1977-2007

Series 19: Outside Developers, 1975-1997

Series 20: Recycling, 1985-1997

Series 21: Audubon Society, 1982-2001

Series 22: Cultural Arts, 1978-1998

Series 23: Condo developments, 1990-1993

Series 24: Chapel, 1951-2002

Series 25: Photographs and Slides, 1973-2003, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Thomas Applegate on behalf of the North River Commission, 2019.


Guide to the North Park Village Collection
Allyson Smally
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northside Neighborhood History Collection Repository

Sulzer Regional Library
Chicago Public Library
4455 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago IL 60625 United States
(312) 742-4455