Dedication of the Nichols Park Fieldhouse/Murray north gym addition. Park Disrict Sup. and CEO Tim Mitchell is in center.
On a lovely spring day in April, Hyde Parkers were pleased to welcome Mayor Daley to Hyde Park to open the new expansion for
Murray School and the Nichols Park Fieldhouse. Pictures George Rumsey
Nichols Fieldhouse dediction. Robert Steele?(or leader of school LSC?, Mayor Daley, tim Mitchell

Signage on the new Nichols Fieldhouse

Thne-Mayor Richard M. Daley prepares to address the crowd gathered in Nichols Park. To right is new Park District General Superintendent Timothy J. Mitchell

Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Robin Kaufman, Mayor Daley, Murray LSC person?, Stephanie Franklin NPAC Pres. Stephanie Franklin, president of the Nichols Park Advisory Council, greets Mayor Daley.
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Tim Mitchell, Mayor Daley, NPAC Pres. Stephanie Franklin, Murray Principal Kathy Konosapek, Fieldhouse Supervisor Heather Kelly, Gary Ossewaarde  (scowling)Interested neighbors and program participants. Right are Nichols Park Advisory Council president Stephanie Franklin (in blue coat), then Murray principal Kathy Konosapek, and Park Supervisor Heather Kelly.
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Rep from DLK, Mayor Daley (adddressing crowd), S. Franl=klin, Michael W. Scott Pres. Board of EducationMayor Daley addresses the crowd, with remarks on the need for quality education and on the importance of schools and parks cooperating in projects such as Nichols Park. Right are Stephanie Franklin (Nichols Council) and then Michael W. Scott, President, Chicago Board of Education. Person at left is with architectural design team DLK.
Nichols Fieldhouse ded]icationAn audience of well-wishers
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Mayor Daley addresses. Next to Mitchell is former princ. and curretn Area 15 Instru. Off. Virginia Vaske
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Alderman Toni Preckwinkle addresses crowdAlderman Toni Preckwinkle.
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. School Board Pres. Michael Scott addresses crowdMichael W.Scott, President, Chicago Board of Education.
Nichols Fieldhouse dedication. Nichols Adv. Council Pres. Stephanie Franklin addresses crowdStephanie Franklin, President, Nichols Park Advisory Council.
Nichols Fieldhouse decication. Franklin, Daley, Preckwinkle and Vaske cut he ribbon.The Field House is officially declared open, with the cutting of the ribbon by Stephanie Franklin, the mayor, the alderman, and the former principal of Murray School and current Instructional Supervisor Area 15, Virginia Vaske.

Return to home. Nichols Park home page. Top


Long-awaited opening to new park-school building

Hyde Park Herald, April 7, 2004. By Mike Stevens

Mayor Richard M. Daley came to Hyde Park last weekend to celebrate the official opening of the Murray School-Nichols Park expansion.

Daley and other city officials, including Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Chicago Park District's new chief Tim Mitchell and Michael W. Scott, President of the Chicago Board of Education, celebrated the new building on Saturday as park users enjoyed a sunny day to play frisbee or toss a softball in the background.

"This is an example of cooperation and I want to salute Alderman Toni Preckwinkle," Daley said. "She has been an asset to not only you but to City Council. We all work together. We may have differences. But you want people to really work together, this is a prime example," said Daley.

"Although the mayor and I occasionally... disagree about some things, we agree very strongly on the importance of education and parks," Preckwinkle said. She thanked current Nichols Park Advisory council president Stephanie Franklin and husband George as well as other parks activists who helped expand Nichols Park north from 54th street to 53rd Street more than a dozen years ago.

"The park looks wonderful, and in fact we would sincerely like to invite the Mayor to come back at least approximately once a month," Franklin said to laughs while standing outside the new park-school building, where recently barren tree boxes were blooming with freshly planted shrubs and flowers.

The 17,163-square-foot park facility, which houses a gymnasium, meeting rooms and office space, is staffed-a first for Nichols Park. Murray students use the gym during school hours.

The nearly 30,000 square-foot school annex includes a lunchroom, seven classrooms, a library and a kitchen.

Construction of the $9 million building, located just north of Murray Language Academy off 53rd Street at Kenwood Avenue, started in fall of 2002 and opened last January, allowing Murray students to eat lunch away from their desks for the first time since 1957, according to school officials.

"I know the challenges associated with trying to make these agencies, these big bureaucratic animals talk to one another and look at one another and work together in a more efficient way," said school board president Michael Scot, who ia former park district board president. Scott credited Daley's "genius" for cutting through the "garbage" of bureaucracy on inter-agency projects.

Scott also touted the school's academic performance, pointing out that Murray students outperform 90 percent of the nation in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

"If anybody in this great city deserves capital dollars to help support the efforts that are here it's this school, Scott said.


From the Spring 2004 Conference Reporter

From the President's Desk. By George Rumsey

It's not often that we HPKers feel charitable toward our Mayor. However, on Saturday, April 3, I definitely felt a glow when Mayor Daley showed up at the dedication of the new Murray School expansion and the new Nichols Park Fieldhouse.

The Nichols Park Advisory Council has put an awful lot of hard work and dedicated hours to see this project completed correctly. With Stephanie and George Franklin leading the charge, the Advisory Council has nudged, cajoled, and pushed until the Park District gets it right (and the struggle continues).

In the Parks: Nichols Fieldhouse Dedicated, Provides Growing Array of Programs. By Gary Ossewaarde, Parks Chairman

On a balmy Saturday afternoon, Mayor Richard M. Daley dedicated the new Nichols Park Fieldhouse/Murray Academy Gymnasium. He also took extra time to visit both the classrooms in the main Murray building to the south of the shared facility and Murray's classroom and science lab addition east of the school.

Joining the Mayor for ceremonies near 53rd Street were Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Chicago Park District General Superintendent [and CEO] Timothy J. Mitchell, Chicago Board of Education President Michael W. Scott, Murray Principal Cathy Konosapek and former principal and Area 15 Instruction administrator Virginia Vaske, Park Supervisor Heather Kelly, Nichols Park Advisory Council President Stephanie Franklin, and many senior staff of public agencies, and residents.

All were highly appreciative of the beautiful and useful building and vowed to make the very best use of a facility built to serve multiple institutions and users in a time of budget constraints. A large part of the funding came from a state grant secured by Representative Barbara Currie and Senator Barack Obama.

The fieldhouse already hosts many programs for tots and children, teens, and adults. Schedule adjustments have already been made. Programs include fitness (soon to include yoga), sports, gymnastics , crafts, and environmental stewardship.

Partnerships include programs with Chicago's museums in the parks, Bally's Fitness, Second City, and Hyde Park Art Center. Residents come in every day to ask for new or more programs and classes in the gym or multipurpose rooms. No such single facility can fill the whole need for a "neighborhood center," but, with other facilities such a the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and the Jewish Community Center, it already serves well.

The program committee of the Nichols Park Advisory Council seeks community input for the programs in the park and sees that the needs are met for ongoing and future Nichols Park Council programs such as the "4th on 53rd Parade and Picnic" and the formal garden and wildflower work by Hyde Park Garden Fair [and Meadowlarks] volunteers. These includes matters as simple as seeing that building facilities are open and accessible when needed. The Program Commitee...asks that program ideas be sent to George Davis at

The Nichols Park Council is busy overseeing the needs of the whole park and making sure the gardens and plaza outside the fieldhouse addition are serviceable, beautiful, and meld well with the older parts of the park. We are proud that most of the members of the Council are also members of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and some are HPKCC board members. The council meets second Thursdays at the Fieldhouse at 7 pm. If you have questions, call Stephanie Franklin at (773) 955-3622.


Return to home
. Nichols Fieldhouse Programs. Nichols Park home page with links to sub pages on the fieldhouse and vicinity planning process. See the Bird of Peace as installed September, 2004- watch for dedication March 19, 2005. Egg page.