Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A Centennial Salute

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

A Centennial Salute

Article excerpt

The grand dames of our country's park systems, the following parks are among those that have passed the century mark, have basked in the warming glow of 100 birthday candles atop a celebratory cake. Each and every one of the parks in this section serves as inspiration and testament to what can be accomplished with equal parts perseverance, determination, foresight, planning, and dedication.

Washington Heights Center Foothills Park and Recreation District Lakewood, Colorado

Built in 1898, the Washington Heights Center began as a one-room schoolhouse, facilitating primary and secondary education for 70 years. When classes ended in 1968, the building had earned the distinction of being the oldest continuously Operating school in Jefferson County still standing on its original site. In 1965, R-1 Schools donated the building and grounds to the Foothills Park and Recreation District, and full-time recreation programming -- consisting of fine-art classes such as painting, drawing, pottery, and sculpture -- was conducted in the building until 1994. Due to costs involved in maintaining the aging building, consideration was given to closing the facility in '94, but community appeal convinced the Foothills Board to seek funds to restore it. Later that year, the building was awarded historical status on the State Register of Historic Properties. The $492,000 restoration, completed last January, was the highlight of the center's 100-year celebration.

Ganesha Park City of Pomona Community Services Department Pomona, California

Ganesha Park is a legendary oasis of gently sloping greens, towering trees, and isolated natural hillsides for the approximately 150,000 residents of Pomona, California, and surrounding communities. The city's founding fathers, who possessed the foresight to plan for their citizens' recreational pursuits, purchased a nine-acre land parcel in 1890, which was supplemented by a small land donation from P.C. Tonner. The park, officially established in 1893, has evolved into a 60-acre preserve of hillside, open space, and relaxing recreational facilities. In addition to the picnic pavilion and children's play area, Ganesha Park features tennis courts, a swimming-pool complex, and a community center constructed in 1958. From its 120-year-old eucalyptus trees to its unique 250-tree Redwood Grove, Ganesha, Pomona's oldest park, is all that the definition of a park implies... relaxing, tranquil, and majestic.

Raymond Park Town of East Hartford East Hartford, Connecticut

The establishment of East Hartford's oldest park, Raymond Park, in 1879 is preceded only by the town's "parks" movement, which started in 1877 with the development of the 128-member Village Improvement Society. Under the impulse of treasurer Albert C. Raymond, the society's objectives included "improving and ornamenting streets and public grounds, planting and caring for trees and shrubs, cleaning and repairing sidewalks and crosswalks, and any other projects to beautify the town." In 1879, it acquired a major responsibility in taking over care of the land deeded to it by Raymond. Situated at the corners of Main Street and Central Avenue, Raymond Park became the first park in town. The Village Improvement Society is still in existence today, guided by its nine members and directors, and continues its sponsorship of the park. When Raymond died in 1880, he dedicated a portion of the money in his will toward construction of a library, which still stands next to the park.

Coburn Park Town of Skowhegan Skowhegan, Maine

In 1885, former governor Abner Coburn left land to the town of Skowhegan to be used for a public park. Twenty years later, the town received the remainder of the parcel from the heirs of Abner Coburn's brother, Philander Coburn. Three park commissioners, first appointed in 1899, were responsible for the development of the park, which constitutes approximately 12 acres. Evergreens were planted near its western end, and the pond was added in 1907, with two islands and the edges planted with aquatic flora such as iris, ferns, rushes, weeping willows, and pond lillies. …

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