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The Cantigny Experience at a glance:

History & Mission

The Legacy Continues


During the early 1930s, Colonel Robert R. McCormick’s estate held an experimental farm on site, which served as a working “laboratory” with the goal of serving the family farms that blanketed the countryside. The experimental farm tried new species of crop plants, tested theories of planting and harvesting, and investigated new practices in raising productive farm animals.  Other experimental farms existed across the nation and one of the most successful was Colonel McCormick’s at Cantigny.

To educate and share the accomplishments of experimental farms, McCormick's Chicago Tribune ran a weekly column entitled “Day by Day Stories of the Experimental Farms." These trusted reports helped shape the future of the Midwest as a leader in agriculture.

After McCormick’s death in 1955, the Board of Directors decided to change Cantigny's focus from agriculture to horticulture by hiring famed landscape architect Franz Lipp to design and build a world-class garden. In 1967, Lipp began construction of this lush, horticultural masterpiece, which is one of the largest display gardens in the Midwest with more than 160,000 annuals, perennials, ground covers and flowering shrubs and trees. A majority of the plants seen throughout the gardens are estate-grown inside Cantigny’s renowned greenhouse. Guests are encouraged to visit the gardens throughout the year to witness the ever-changing beauty of its seasonal glory.


Cantigny Gardens’ MISSION is to promote the beauty, enjoyment and education of horticulture and to protect our natural environment.