The South Mansion in Berger Park was built for Joseph Downey, an Irish immigrant who rose to become the city's Commissioner of Buildings and Public Works. It's a traditional American Foursquare design completed in 1906 by architect William Carbys Zimmerman. He also designed the nearby Conway House during the era when Sheridan Road was among the city’s most fashionable streets. The house eventually became part of a Viatorian novitiate (housing for a community of Roman Catholic clerics), which also included the Berger Park North Mansion. The Chicago Park District purchased the property in 1981 and rehabilitated the structure to serve as a field house and recreation center for Berger Park.