History of Allerton Park

Allerton Park was built as the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton. Named “The Farms,” the estate was the center of the 12,000-acre Illinois agricultural enterprise assembled during the late 1800s by Robert’s father Samuel. The family wealth extended well beyond Illinois as Samuel Allerton amassed more than 80,000 acres of farmland across the Midwest. The elder Allerton was a founding principal of the First National Bank of Chicago, and held prominent leadership positions in five major stockyards, including the Union Stockyards of Chicago.

Although he oversaw his father’s interests in the Central Illinois farms, Robert Allerton’s passion was art. Educated in Europe, he travelled extensively in winter, and became an avid art collector, philanthropist and artist who viewed the landscape as his canvas. Allerton believed that through nature, art could surround and embrace every human. This belief in the artistic power of nature led to his lifelong commitment to stewardship of the land and its natural elements. With the help of John Gregg, his protégé and, later, adopted son, Robert spent decades shaping the Illinois farmland to create ever-evolving landscapes that captured the natural beauty of the woodland and prairie, and formal gardens which served as an outdoor gallery for the sculpture he collected during his travels around the world.

For more information on the history of Allerton Park we recommend Robert Allerton: The Private Man & the Public Gifts and Allerton’s Paradises.