Highland Park Historical Society to Honor Legendary Architect/Mayor W.W. Boyington
William W. Boyington is perhaps best known as architect of the Chicago Water Tower, a symbol of the city’s resurgence after the Great Fire of 1871, but he was also once the Mayor of Highland Park, where he designed several homes and commercial buildings.
On October 10 at 7:30 AM, the Highland Park Historical Society will unveil a pictorial tribute to Boyington at the suburb’s main Metra station (St. Johns & Laurel Avenues) near where commuters once took trains of the Chicago & North Western Railway to a terminal Boyington designed along the Chicago River.
Recognizing the need to keep street traffic flowing while trains were stopped at the station or passing through Highland Park’s business district, Boyington supported the construction of an underpass at Laurel Avenue that has been in use since the 1870s.
Coming to Chicago from New England in 1853, Boyington quickly made his mark on the city, designing the entrance to Rosehill Cemetery, Crosby’s Opera House, the Sherman House Hotel, the Water Tower and many other structures before the Great Fire.
The Chicago Board of Trade and other buildings came afterward, along with homes for himself and other prominent citizens in Highland Park. In his home community he also designed buildings for the Gray Electric Company and Northwestern Military Academy.
October 10 is an appropriate day for honoring Boyington. It was on that date in 1871 that a light rain helped put out the Great Chicago Fire, and the dawn’s early light proved that the Water Tower, like the American flag at Fort McHenry, was still there. And it still is!
A few years ago the Highland Park Historical Society created what it calls its Legends program to honor residents of the community who have made lasting contributions, not only to Highland Park, but to the general area and beyond.
Besides becoming a renowned architect, Boyington was a civic booster and Mayor of Highland Park from 1875 to 1877. His ties to the railroad that stimulated the growth of the entire North Shore makes the station a fitting place to memorialize him.