Fioretti pitches name for West Loop park
06/30/2010 10:00 PM
The two names usually used as shorthand for the West Loop’s new park are the Chicago Park District’s administrative-feeling Park #542 and the more informal (and geographic) Adams-Sangamon Park.
Recently, Ald. Robert Fioretti’s office pitched an official name for the space to park district superintendent Timothy Mitchell.
The honoree: Mary Bartelme.
Born near Halsted and Fulton in 1866, Bartelme became the first female judge in Illinois in 1923 and the second female judge in the nation, according to a biography of Bartelme written by Brian Hays, Michael Levy and Gwen Hoerr McNamee and included the Chicago Bar Association’s 1998 book, 125 Years of Women Lawyers in Illinois.
After being admitted to the Illinois bar in 1894, according to the biography, Bartelme began her legal career as a probate attorney with Barnes, Barnes & Bartelme.
Her practice, however, ultimately focused on the plight of children and young people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Chicago was industrializing and immigrants were filling the city. In 1897, she was appointed Public Guardian for Cook County, the first woman in the country to fill that role. She used the post to improve the lot of teens and children in Chicago who needed assistance. It was a role that brought her into close contact with such renowned social reformers of the era as Jane Addams, the founder of the Hull House settlement house on the Near West Side.
“In fulfilling her duties as Public Guardian, Bartelme began to envision a new system of care for children that would provide them with suitable homes where they would receive an education and kind treatment,” the biography says.
In 1913, Bartelme left her guardian position to serve as an assistant to Merritt Pickney, then the presiding judge of Cook County Circuit Court, where she advised Pickney on juvenile and women’s issues. Ten years later, she was elected judge in the county juvenile court system. She later taught at Northwestern University and was active in many of the city’s legal organizations and service clubs.
Bartelme died in 1954 at the age of 88.
“Bartelme was an outstanding example of the type of civic service that should be commemorated,” Fioretti’s letter to Mitchell reads. “I urge you to approve this proposal to name Adams/Sangamon for Mary Bartelme.”
In recent years, the park district has pushed to name new facilities and parks after Chicago women.