1800s

1835


Hilly area with wooded coves and lagoons used for picnics and family outings, was originally located south of the city limits.

1860


Known as "Scharschung's Woods" up to 1870. The area was a natural playground, consisting of groves and swamps.

1870s


Known as "Sharp Shooter Park" since the Aurora Sharp Shooter Society, founded by a German group, used the area near the beer garden as a shooting range. That same area later became the golf grounds.

1874


Ferdinand Dapprich, local downtown tavern owner of German descent, owned the land and used it as a beer garden and later cultivated a vineyard.
  • The property was located at the end of a streetcar line.
  • Sharp Shooter Park listed as 40 acres in the Holland's Aurora City Directory in 1874.
  • 1876 - advertisement: Ferd. Dapprich, Sample Rooms and Pleasure Grounds, Proprietor of Aurora Shootin Park and Grapery. Homemade Wine etc., etc., for sale.
  • 1884 - Listing in Holland's Aurora City Directory: Dapprich, Ferd., proprietor of sample room and billiard hall and forty acres of land on the Plainfield road known as "Shooting Park" which he offers for sale at a low price, also a resident of Aurora since 1866, 50 River, resolution 38 S Fourth.

1884


Dapprich sold property to Dr. Pond, who then sold to State Senator H.H. Evans. Evans, a capitalist and realtor, who also owned the Grand Opera House that opened in 1891.
  • Area could be reached by the Fifth Street Summer Car Line.
  • Aurora Street Railway: '83 Mule/'93 Electric.
  • Evans was also the President of the Aurora Street Railway.
  • By 1897 the inter-urban line included Aurora, Yorkville and Morris as destinations.

1885


Senator Henry H. Evans purchased the property to develop it as a center of entertainment, which featured a refreshment hall and dance pavilion and became known as Evans Park.
  • In 1899 he started Riverview Park in Montgomery, located west of the Fox River. It was later known as Fox River Park and eventually closed in 1925.
  • Photocopy of 1908 Advertisement: Evans for Candidate for Republican Nomination for State Senator, 14th District for August 8, 1908 Primaries.
  • Photo of Evans home near the corner of Downer and Broadway in The Aurora Story.

1890


Phillips Park used for annual 4th of July family celebrations.
  • Area could have been used as early as the 1850s, when celebrating the 4th of July with family picnics became the new tradition.
  • The Fifth-Spruce Line Street Car serviced the park.

1899


Property donated through the estate of Auroran Travis Phillips, former grocer, alderman and mayor.
  • He instructed that $24,000 from his estate be used to purchase property for a park and be donated to the city.
  • After Phillip's death in 1897, a total of 60 acres, at $400 per acre, were purchased from Evans, by the estate administrator Eugene B. Mix and turned over to the city. City population 20,000. (History of Aurora)
  • The actual deed was signed and recorded on November 21, 1899.
  • He served as Third Ward Alderman from 1876 to 1880 and Mayor in 1881.
  • 1874 - Photocopy of Travis Phillips Photo.
  • In 1854 he started a grocery store that he ran for 26 years at the corner of Downer and River. A photo of his home on Broadway, near the corner of Downer is shown in The Aurora Story.
  • Phillips was born on September 3, 1830. Phillips never married. He is buried in the West Aurora Cemetery.

1899


Known as "City Park."
  • In July 1902 the City Council voted to change the name to Phillips Park in honor of its donor.