#110: Kankakee Museum, Bird Park

On this episode of The Kankakee Podcast, Jack Klasey and Jorie Walters of the Kankakee County Museum return to the show. They discuss the fascinating history of Bird Park, located at the center of Kankakee. Originally a stone quarry, Klasey jokes that the park is commonly misidentified as “Bird’s Park.” Jack and Jorie go on to discuss Worth W. Bird, the man after whom the park is named. After his family bought the property in the 1850s, Worth went on to open the quarry in 1870 and operated it for many years.

But that’s just the beginning of the story. The park’s history is rich with twists and turns, from unrealized plans for a scenic lake to a former zoo that once thrived there. Jack and Jorie take us on a journey through time, unveiling captivating tales of the park’s evolution and the characters that shaped it.

To hear more about the intriguing past of Bird Park and the hidden gems of Kankakee’s history, tune in to this episode and let Jack and Jorie be your guides. You won’t want to miss the rewarding insights they have to share about this cherished landmark.

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About Our Guests

The Kankakee County Museum, established in 1906, is one of the oldest historical societies in Illinois. Initially displaying artifacts and documents in various locations, it found a permanent home in 1948 with the construction of the Historical and Arts Building on Governor Small Memorial Park. The park’s land was donated by the Small family as a memorial to the 26th Governor of Illinois, Dr. Abram Small’s son, Lennington. 

The museum’s exhibits, ranging from historic documents to Native American artifacts, were expanded over the years. Today, the Kankakee County Museum has grown to more than four times its original size, housing the Taylor One-Room Schoolhouse, the Column Garden, and the Let Freedom Ring Garden. The museum continues its rich tradition of showcasing art through the annual Art League Art Show and other periodic exhibits.

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