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Aussies Want to Rename Jarvis Beach After Woman Who Designed Their Capital

 Architect Marion Mahony Griffin, with her husband Walter, designed the city of Canberra a century ago.
Architect Marion Mahony Griffin, with her husband Walter, designed the city of Canberra a century ago.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard (inset: National Library of Australia)

ROGERS PARK — The Aussies are at it again.

The Australian representative to the Midwest has proposed — for a second time — that a Chicago park be renamed for Marion Mahony Griffin, the American architect who with her husband, Walter, designed the Aussie capital city Canberra more than a century ago.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) announced Wednesday that Consul-General Roger Price, who heads the Australian consulate in Chicago, proposed to rename Jarvis Beach and Park after the Griffins.

An earlier proposal to rename Park No. 557 after the architect didn't pan out after a neighborhood group in West Rogers Park opposed the idea.

In the early 1900s, the couple won an international competition to design the first capital city of Australia after the continent's British colony declared its independence in 1901.

The Griffins moved from Chicago to Australia after winning the competition, and work began in 1913 to construct the city in former farmland in southeast Australia.

"There’s a strong American connection to Australia's capital," Price told DNAinfo Chicago last year, mentioning that the artificial lake at the city's center is named after Walter Griffin, and a prominent lookout was renamed for Marion Griffin in November.

The Griffins lived in Australia until 1936, before moving to India where Walter Griffin died. Marion Griffin eventually returned to Chicago in 1939 and lived in Rogers Park on Estes Avenue until her death at age 90 in 1961.

Jarvis Beach and Jarvis Avenue were named after R.J. Jarvis, a friend of the Rogers and Touhy families, who founded and subdivided Rogers Park, according to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.

Moore said he would support the renaming of the park at the August park district Board of Commissioners meeting unless there was opposition from the community.