Home City park McCulloch Park, celebrating the life and work of Evanston’s suffragist, finally reopens

McCulloch Park, celebrating the life and work of Evanston’s suffragist, finally reopens

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After more than a year of delay, McCulloch Park is open again.

The 1.7 acre park, located between Livingston and Jenks streets in northwest Evanston, is named after Catharine Waugh McCulloch, Evanston lawyer and prominent suffragist who died in 1945 at the age of 82 years.

The park, which was named after McCulloch in 1975, had been closed to replace aging playground equipment and renovate playgrounds, said city engineer Lara Biggs. It was originally scheduled to reopen in August 2020, but was delayed by financial issues related to the pandemic and equipment supply constraints.

“It is a very well used park,” said Eleanor Revelle, member of the city council, in which the 7th district is located. “It’s a center of interest for the neighborhood, really the heart of the whole community.

McCulloch’s great-granddaughter Ann, who grew up in Evanston, spearheads a celebration of her ancestor’s life, including her key role in allowing Illinois women to vote for presidential voters in the 1916 presidential election, four years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Ann has retained the services of Evanston filmmaker Susan Hope Engel to direct a film about her great-grandmother. The documentary was originally slated to be completed in time to celebrate the centenary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 2020, but COVID-19 put the brakes on the project. “But the bright side of the delay is that we can include a lot more about Catharine’s life and work, such as her groundbreaking work as a lawyer and all of her writings including plays, brochures, essays and editorials, ”Engel said.

A new marker for the National Votes for Women Trail commemorating the work of Evanston Catharine McCulloch’s suffragist will be officially unveiled on October 30. (Photo by Les Jacobson)

As part of the park’s reopening, a historical marker will be officially unveiled at a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 30. The National Votes for Women Trail marker is one of several hundred in the United States but only four in Illinois, Lori Osborne said. , Director of the Evanston Women’s History Project at the Evanston History Center.

The marker, which has already been installed at the south end of the park, reads in part: “National Votes for Women Trail. Road to the 19th Amendment. Votes for women. Catharine Waugh McCulloch, political activist and legal strategist for IL women’s suffrage obtained in 1913. Park named in her honor.

“She was one of the first women to push the boundaries and create new opportunities for women,” Osborne told the Round table.

McCulloch graduated from law school and called to the bar in 1886, according to Wikipedia, but after facing discrimination in hiring based on gender, she chose to start her own law firm in 1892.

“Although she is a justice of the peace,” her Wikipedia article read, “she made national headlines by agreeing to conduct equal marriage ceremonies in which she omitted the word ‘obey’ from the words. rituals that the woman was supposed to say; at that time, the man pledged to “love, honor and cherish” while the woman pledged to “love, honor and obey”.

“In 1917 she was appointed Master of Chancellery of the Cook County Superior Court. She became known for her advocacy for the elimination or amendment of marriage and divorce laws that discriminate against women, and she has worked to create uniformity of these laws in all cases. States.

“She was legal counsel for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (which became the League of Women Voters in 1920 after the passage of the 19th Amendment) and served as its first vice-president. She has also served as legal counsel for the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

In a YouTube video, Osborne points out that McCulloch’s legal strategy to secure “partial suffrage” for female voters in 1913 “propelled the women’s suffrage movement into passing the 19th Amendment in 1919”. McCulloch was one of the first female justices of the peace in the United States and ran her law firm from an office from her home on Orrington Street in Evanston.

Biggs noted that there are a number of other Evanston parks named after women, including Harbert Payne Park for author and reformer Elizabeth Boynton Harbert (1843-1925) and Betty Jean Payne, a neighborhood activist passed away in 2017. Butler Park is named after Isabella. Garnett Butler, who helped found the Evanston Sanatorium, a precursor to the community hospital, which served the black community of Evanston at a time when the Evanston Hospital was separate.

“It was good working with residents on improvements to McCulloch Park,” Biggs said, adding that there had been several neighborhood meetings to ensure the redesigned park “met the needs of the community”.

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