The Dorchester Botanical Garden was created by a grant from the Southeast Chicago Commission at the University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Metra, for local artist and botanist William Hill to create a biodiverse space with nature-inspired sculptures. Though Hill was aware of the growth of urban agriculture on the South Side, “I wanted a uniqueness, because I was more concerned with plant life, the environment, and biodiversity… toward understanding the connection between people and plants." His mission is to use urban gardens as an educational approach to understanding and appreciating nature. The ultimate goal is to create a living museum, one where community residents as well as visitors will come to learn about plant diversity and the importance of natural environment in urban spaces.
The William Hill Gallery and Sculpture Garden was conceived through a grant Hill received from the Big Lot Program, allowing him to obtain the abandoned lot next to his home for $1 “in order to give back to the community in terms of beautification” and create a “good green space environment.” After living in Woodlawn for 50 years, Hill desired to make a contribution to the community. Gaining the Alderman’s support, he created a botanical garden that combined sculptures, plant diversity and green space; it is accessible to the public while being part of his home.
Hill, William. Interview. 29 Mar. 2016.
Stories of Generosity: William Hill’s “Living Museum” in Woodlawn. The Chicago Community Trust, 2015. Film.
For more information about the $1 Lot Program: https://largelots.org/about/