Chicago History Museum – Major Renovation and Property Development

Chicago History Museum – Major Renovation and Property Development

Demolition of the Vault area has been completed, and preparation for the installation of the new design has begun. The Vault area is where the historical documents for the City of Chicago are stored. Property Development work has also begun, including the excavation of a 13,000 pound metal relic from the Chicago Fire of 1871. The relic will be cleaned and then returned to the Park as part of the new Jaffee History Trail.


The project, scheduled to finish in the Fall of 2021, is a major renovation and property development project. Included is the development of an outdoor, educational trail, a renovation to the Museum’s back plaza, and an interior renovation of the vault where the City’s historical collection is kept. The beautification project will weather-proof the half-moon-shaped plaza and improve the surrounding parkland with an interactive history trail.

The extensive interior renovation of the vault will consist of architectural, mechanical, electrical, fire suppression, lighting, and compact storage upgrades. Environmental controls will be added to help preserve the integrity of the historical collection.

Among the new locations will be a native species garden. The History Trail will incorporate the park’s existing pathways, and a path will be added that loops around the entire parkland. With these changes, the plaza will connect more seamlessly to the surrounding area.

New Rain Garden Rendering
New Rain Garden Pergola Rendering
New Plaza Star Rendering
3.1.21 – Demolition of the Vault Area has begun.
3.22.21 – Property development work begins.
Excavation of a 13,000 pound relic from the Chicago Fire of 1871. The mass is a clump of metal objects that melted from the heat.
Removing the existing waterproofing on the east plaza foundation wall. New waterproofing will be installed.
Electronic Field Vector Map testing of the new waterproofing membrane on the Plaza deck.
Delivery of the new air handling unit to serve the renovated Vault Area.
Exposed electrical and plumbing lines that lead to the Children’s Fountain on the southeast corner of the site. These lines are in conflict with changes to be made, so they will need to be re-routed.
Concrete footings for the Pergolas on the east side of the Plaza.
Ductwork runs on the east side of the renovated Vault.
New Gateway Rendering
New Corner Sign Rendering
The East Plaza of the Chicago History Museum
3.18.21 – layout for the new Vault Area in preparation.
3.29.21 – The Children’s Fountain is staying, but the sidewalk around the fountain is being replaced. A new sidewalk will be installed, and a new stone wall with signs will be installed as you enter the new walk path through the property.
The relic will be cleaned before returning to the park as part of the Jaffee History Trail.
Where the east plaza, the 1980’s addition, and the Museum foundation wall, built in the 1930’s, meet. We will be removing and re-installing the entire height of the foundation wall which is roughly 15′.
Installation of new waterproofing on the existing Plaza stairs.
Newly installed air handling unit to serve the renovated Vault Area.
Covered Chicago History Museum items in preparation for jetting/cleaning the sump pump and catch basin.
Excavation and mud slabs for site foundation walls on the east side of the Plaza.
Brick masonry work has started on the planter bed retaining walls east of the Plaza deck.
Pergola foundations and electrical feeds for light fixtures in the Pergola bases.

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