The Humboldt Park Stables, home to the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, is truly a historic and architectural treasure. Designed by architects Fromman & Jebsen and constructed in 1895–1896, the Humboldt Park Stables feature handiwork and materials rarely seen today: red pressed brick, timber cornices and gables, glazed corner tiles, dramatic turrets and archways, and a long sloping red tile roof. In December of 1895, Danish immigrant and master landscape architect Jens Jensen was named Superintendent of Humboldt Park and, later, of Chicago’s West Park System. Jensen’s office was located on the first-floor turret overlooking the park.
The stable building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. At that time, the Chicago Park District began efforts to restore the building. Unfortunately, fire destroyed more that 40 percent of the roof and the second floor in 1992. Undeterred, the Park District and community leaders worked tirelessly to renovate the building and transform it into the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, which two years ago, became transformed into the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.
Renovations of the exterior of the building were completed in 1998. The interior has undergone significant renewal with the building of several galleries and classrooms and the expected addition of a cafe, gift shop and a main gallery by December of 2010.
The Humboldt Park Stables are truly an aesthetic masterpiece, providing a beautiful and stimulating setting for NMPRAC’s exhibitions, programs and cultural activities. The restoration and thoughtful reuse of this extraordinary space is a tremendous gift to the community and to the City of Chicago.