Gorton Community Center was designed as the Central School in 1901 by James Gamble Rogers and later renamed the Edward F. Gorton School to honor a respected Lake Forest mayor. The original school was sited in a parklike setting maintained by the school gardener. Cars were not a fixture of the times. Over the years the school was renovated by well-known architects Howard Van Doren Shaw, Stanley D. Anderson, and Ralph Milman. As school buses and the automobile became commonplace, the grounds became a sea of asphalt in the Illinois Road neighborhood. By the 1990s, there was little left of the original park setting of the Gorton School.
When the building was completely renovated in 1999-2000 to better serve the needs of Gorton Community Center, founded in the building in 1972, landscape improvements were a priority along with building improvements. Then-Commission Chairman, Don Fiore and his daughter Lisa Fiore developed and donated a landscape plan designed to restore the original landscape ambiance of the site and to enhance the renovation designed by Prisco Serena Sturm Architects. Mr. Fiore also donated complete maintainance of the site to the City of Lake Forest for the years 2001-2003.
The annual flower gardens at the south entrance were planted and maintained each year, as they had been for many years, by Mr. and Mrs. Roland Ford and members of the Woodlands Garden Club.