The symbolic representation of the Village of Glenview -- the Bear -- made his official debut 100 years ago on September 15, 1917. On that day, the "Children's Fountain" was dedicated at an event for which the entire town of Glen View,
as it was then named, turned out. The site was the southeast corner of Glenview Road and Pine Street, where today an apartment and retail complex stands. When a fire station was built on the site (which was torn down in 2013 for the apartment-retail project), the Bear was moved two more times before occupying its current perch in a plaza adjacent to Jackman Park.
The Bear became the Village's mascot, and "Hug the Bear" became its motto. It served as a reminder that residents -- individually and collectively -- should continue to give, serve and care about the community. To "Hug the Bear" means in an analogical sense to "hug" the community.
To mark this special occasion, a ceremony reminiscent of the 1917 event has been scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the gazebo in Jackman Park. Entertainment, speeches and refreshments are planned for the Bear Birthday Bash 100, and everyone is welcome.
Andrew O'Connor was commissioned by Edwin Jackman to create the fountain. A painting by Charles Morgan Del of the fountain was featured on the dedication program, with a horse and dogs drinking from troughs and two children drinking from fountains. Animals, Native Americans and nature scenes were depicted on the column. The bear at the top holds a bar with two lamps in his mouth.
The fountain originally served three purposes:
- With the horse and buggy still the principal means of travel in 1917, the lower portion was a large basin, or trough, for the watering of horses.
- A smaller basin near the bottom, which no longer exists, served to water dogs and small animals.
- A drinking spigot was low enough to serve both children and adults with drinking water.
Edwin Stanton Jackman (1865-1927), who resided at 57 Overlook Drive, Golf, made his fortune through E. S. Jackman and Company, as the Chicago agent for Firth-Sterling Steel Company. He claimed to "have been selling steel to railroads since his 20th birthday," and celebrated his 50th birthday with a pamphlet that paid tribute "to American railroads and the men who run them."
A philanthropist whose generosity benefited Glen View, he was known to also be fond of children, horses, dogs and history. Exactly why Jackman gave Glenview the fountain and what it symbolizes -- particularly the Bear -- remain a matter of conjecture.
He and his wife, Harriet, had no children but doted on their nephews. In 1919, Jackman donated a second fountain, "The Spirit of Youth," to the Glen View Golf and Polo Club, a bronze sculpture featuring Boy Scouts that was also created by Andrew O'Connor.
More on that sculpture can be found here.
Jackman died in 1927 while on vacation in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Virtually the entire Village (population around 700) turned out for the dedication of the Bear fountain in 1917. Everyone from Village dignitaries to school children took part. Music was furnished by a band from Great Lakes Naval Training Center. The slideshow below shows the residents marching in a parade to the dedication site and the dedication ceremony.
The highlight was Edwin Jackman's dedication speech.
The Village instituted an annual celebration of the event in 1918. Called Fountain Day, the celebration evolved into Glenview Days a few years later. Glenview Days festivities included water fights between fire companies, tumbling clowns, tricycle parades for boys, doll parades for girls, a Mardi Gras-like costume parade, street dances and baseball games.
The early days
These pictures show the fountain at its original spot on Glenview Road:
(Chicago History Museum photo)
The Bear has become the place to root on Chicago sports teams and celebrate championships:
Bears - 2007 Blackhawks - 2015 Cubs - 2016
1917 -- The Bear fountain is dedicated on September 15.
1929 -- The Glenview Park District purchased its first park site, the land to the north of the former Village Hall at 1930 Prairie Street, now known as Jackman Park.
1946 -- The Bear fountain is moved to an "undistinguished spot" in Jackman Park when a building housing the Police and Fire departments was built on the 1800 block of Glenview Road.
1963 -- The Bear fountain is refurbished and moved near 1930 Prairie Street, which housed Village Hall and the Glenview Days Community Association.
1967 -- A 1-hour program marked the golden anniversary of the Bear fountain's dedication.
1999 -- As part of the Village's centennial celebration, the Bear fountain is recast and placed in a centennial plaza established at the southeast entrance to Jackman Park.