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Jarvis Beach To Be Dedicated as Marion Mahony Griffin Beach on Saturday

 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 have successfully campaigned to rename Jarvis Beach after Marion Mahony Griffin, the American architect who with her husband, Walter, designed the Aussie capital city Canberra more than a century ago.

The park, at 1208 W. Jarvis Ave., will be dedicated as Marion Mahony Griffin Beach Park at 11 a.m. Saturday. Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and Australian Consul-General Roger Price will host the ceremony.

Afterward, Price plans to host an Australian tea service at the Emil Bach House, 7415 N. Sheridan Road.

In the early 1900s, the Griffins 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.

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.

Griffin had been hired by Frank Lloyd Wright at the beginning of her career, creating beautiful designs and watercolor paintings of Prairie-Style architecture.

She also completed two murals at Armstrong Elementary School, at 2110 W. Greenleaf Ave., which remain to this day after a 1997 restoration.

Jarvis Beach and Jarvis Avenue were thought to be 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.

But Ald. Moore cast doubt last year that Mr. Jarvis even existed at all after research didn't turn up anything about him.

Moore, citing research from the University of Illinois at Chicago, said Jarvis Avenue had been named Bryan Street after "a prominent Rogers Park landowner." But in 1913, Bryan Street was among hundreds of streets renamed by the City Council.

"Bryan Street was renamed Juniata Street, apparently because there was a 'Bryan Place' elsewhere in the City," Moore said.

Inexplicably a few months later, Moore said, the City Council voted to change the name yet again, this time to its current identity, Jarvis.

Moore said R.J. Jarvis might have existed and had only been overlooked in documents, but no relatives of the mysterious man have come forward so far.

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