Among the almost 100 parks in Evanston, there are 10 that stand out – those named after women – and you don’t have to search all over town to find them.
The Evanston History Center created the Women’s History Tour of Evanston to guide you on your journey, from Cornelia Lunt Park to the Carlson Greenhouse to Butler Park and Reba Park. Learn more about Evanston women in history who have been honored for their contributions to the city with a variety of parks.
Cornelia Lunt Gardens, Church Street and Judson Avenue
Cornelia Lunt (1843-1934) was the daughter of Orrington Lunt, one of the founders of Northwestern University. She was known as the city’s “first lady” after she arrived in Evanston in 1871. Lunt was the founder of the Fort Dearborn Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Chicago branch of the Colonial Dames of America.
The Carlson Greenhouse, 2611 Sheridan Rd.
Tucked away at Lighthouse Beach is the Carlson Greenhouse, named after botanist and conservation activist Dr. Margery Carlson (1892-1985). Carlson taught botany at Northwestern University and was a research associate at the Field Museum, whose plant collection she helped build through her travels around the world. She also received her BS, MS and PhD from Northwestern. In 1928, she was one of only five female faculty members.
Oldberg Park, just south of the Northwestern Bienen School of Music, bordering Elgin Road, Clark Street and Sherman Avenue
Located in downtown Evanston, this park is named after Mary Oldberg (1876-1968), who founded the Council of Social Agencies and was President of the District 76 Board of Education (now Evanston/Skokie School District 65) and Vice President of the Evanston Public Library for 37 years. Much of her work consisted of helping those in need and health care.
McCulloch Park, Livingston Street and south of Jenks Street, between Broadway Avenue and Eastwood Avenue
Suffragist Catharine Waugh McCulloch (1862-1945) is honored at McCulloch Park with a National Votes for Women Trail Marker, one of only four in Illinois. McCulloch was a lawyer, political activist and supporter of women’s rights. She was the first woman in Illinois to serve as Justice of the Peace and worked tirelessly for the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Habert-Payne Park, 2024 North McCormick Blvd.
Renamed in 2020, Haber-Payne Park honors the activist Elizabeth Boynton Harbert (1843-1925) and Betty Jean Payne (1938-2017). Harbert was a writer and women’s rights activist. She was President of the Illinois Woman Suffrage Association for 12 years and Vice President of the National Woman Suffrage Association for Illinois. Payne attended Evanston Township High School and Evanston Business College, and worked at Horizon Federal Savings Bank and Loan with housing loans and investments. She was a board member of the YWCA and established the Canal Park Neighbors Association and Noise Neighbors.
Butler Park, Foster Street and Hartley Avenue
In the Fifth Ward lies Butler Park, named in honor of Dr. Isabella Garnett-Butler (1872-1948). She was born to one of Evanston’s earliest Black families. She and her husband opened up the Evanston Sanitarium and Training School in 1918 after seeing the poor hospital care Black residents in Evanston received. It was one of only four hospitals in the Chicago area that admitted Black people. In 1930, the Community Hospital opened with Garnett serving as Superintendent until 1946.
Smith Park, Ashland Avenue and Lyons Street
A physical education teacher, Elnora Smith (1894-1958) dedicated her life to advocating for safe playground equipment and safer parks in Evanston. She arrived in Evanston in 1923 to teach in School District 75 (now Evanston/Skokie School District 65) and eventually became the physical education supervisor for all Evanston schools. During World War II, she took a break to dedicate her time to running the Evanston rationing office.
Leah LoMar Park, Mulford Street
Leah LoMar Park is named after an advocate for education in Evanston. She established PTA chapters throughout Evanston and served as Presidentin the Dawes and Nichols PTAs, as well as Vice President seat at Chute. She advocated for equity and accessibility in schools and was a member of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 advisory committees on the integration of schools.
Vera Megowen Park, South Boulevard and Hinman Avenue
A professional chef who trained at the Cordon Bleu, Vera Megowen (1894-1987) opened her first restaurant in 1926. She is known for her philanthropy and support of local organizations.
Reba Park, 707 Reba Place
Reba Poor Dickenson’s father, John Poor, named the street Reba Place in her honor. Also bearing her name are Reba Place Fellowship, the oldest urban Christian commune in the United States, Reba Place Church and Reba Place Development Association.