Buena Park owes its name to the affection that an 1850’s landowner had for his family home. In the 1850’s James Wallis purchased fifty-three acres of land to build an estate for his family.
At the time of his purchase governmental boundaries were vastly different than our current arrangement. The city of Chicago’s northern boundary was near where Armitage Street currently exists. Wallis’ land was located in Lakeview.
Wallis’ property, located in the town of Lakeview, extended roughly from Irving Park to Montrose, and the lake to the eastern border of what is now Graceland Cemetery. Wallis’ 53-acre family plot encompassed the land upon which the St. Mary’s of Lake Catholic Church is currently situated.
Wallis built a large Greek Revival mansion on the site where the church currently stands. Wallis affectionately dubbed his mansion Buena, or Buena House. Later, the surrounding acreage became known as Buena Park.
As a side note: At the time Wallis bought his property, Broadway Avenue – then called Evanston Avenue – was a mere plank road. As Chicago crept further north, Wallis began to develop his property, and in 1889 Lakeview was annexed to the city of Chicago.