Friday, May 12, 2017

History of Century Park

Here's another one of those series of articles about the history of Lorain parks that ran in the Lorain Daily News back in mid-August 1939. I've already posted the second and third articles in the series, so – finally – here's the first one (sorry they’re out of order).

Note: The following is the first of a series of articles to appear in the Lorain news concerning the history and present needs of Lorain city parks.

In 1900 – the birth year of the 20th Century – some enterprising folks purchased land from the A. C. Farragher farm and built a dance hall on Lake Erie a mile and a quarter east of Black River. They very "timely" called it the Century Park Dance Hall.

Lorain oldsters were youngsters then, and to the tune of a fiddle and a piano, they waltzed, quadrilled, "polkaed," two stepped, hesitated, and tangoed until April 2, 1919, when the city purchased the hall and 2 1/2 acres of land from Charles and Martha Refring for $14,700.

The dance hall was rented out as a concession by the city and the post-war young folks waltzed and tangoed some more, and foxtrotted until the floor was worn thin and unsafe. Lake Erie had, through the two decades, quietly dug solid ground from under 20 feet of the north end of the hall. So in August, 1923 a new floor was being laid, and new underpinning constructed. On the 11th day of that month a fire broke out, and despite the best efforts of the fire department, the hall burned to the ground.

Fire insurance brought the city $8000 which was used toward the development of the present Century Park. A bath house was built, parking space provided, a retaining wall and piers built, and proper landscaping done. Later swing for the children were put up, and still later tables and fireplaces for picnickers provided. For a good number of years, the beach has been well guarded. Many tourists as well as home folks daily use the park for swimming and picnicking.

The Park Commission has included several items in its improvement program for the next few years for Century Park. The lake bank is being undermined by recent high water, and must be repaired; the bank should be graded and seeded; more shade trees should be planted; and the piers should be encased in concrete for greater safety.

Recent photo of Century Park
Century Park has been featured a few times on this blog. I did a “then and now” back in 2011, and featured vintage postcards here. I also posted an article about the dedication of the bathhouse that replaced the dance hall here.

No comments: