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Park System Is Developed From Meager Beginnings by Robert Holt

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Park System Is Developed From Meager Beginnings


By Robert Holt

One primitive, tree-strewn tract in 1902 -- 11 modern city parks with spacious lawns, attractive trees and flowers and recreation facilities for children and adults in 1940; parks that require the services of a large crew of full-time employees and an annual city expenditure of nearly $10,000 – that, in brief, is the story of the development of the Missoula park system, a story to be gleaned from the records of City Engineer W. H. Swearingen’s office, the story of the slow and painstaking expansion of the parks timed with the growth of the city through a period of 38 years.

          December 22, 1902, was the date that Missoula received its first, and by far its largest park, the Christmas gift of the late T. L. Greenough whose name it bears.

          Located in the extreme northeast section of the city, Greenough park comprises 33 shady acres broken here and there by picnic grounds and by children’s playgrounds. Running diagonally through it, and bounded for part of its length by a stone embankment, is the swiftly flowing Rattlesnake creek. Extensive work in the seeding of lawns and the planting of trees and shrubs enhances the natural beauties of the place. The park is traversed by a one-way road having its entrance on Vine street opposite the Greenough residence, and its exit on Monroe street.


Work of Service Club

From what was in the beginning a service club civic improvement project has grown one of the most important and most frequented parks in the city – the Kiwanis park. Located south of East Front street between Pattee street and Rattlesnake creek, its landscaped entrance, with a charming lawn and many flowers and shrubs, provides a cool retreat within easy reach of the business district. The park was developed by the Kiwanis club and presented to the city in 1934. Facilities of the park include tennis courts, a pavilion, a fireplace used by the Girl Reserves and a field used for baseball and softball games in summer and for ice skating during the winter months.

          Bonner park, deeded to the city from the estate of the late John L. Bonner, includes the area bounded by Evans, Beverly, Ronald and Hilda avenues. Development began in 1924, the year the ground was acquired, and has been continued until today the entire area is developed with a good lawn, trees, shrubs and possessing tennis courts, a wading pool and a picnic pavilion. WPA funds and labor were responsible for a portion of the work.


Two Sites Donated

          The city acquired title to the areas now comprising North Side and West Side parks in 1922 by donation. North Side park has an area of about six acres and West Side of one city block. Both have Tennis courts, wading pools and facilities for child recreation.

          Sacajawea park, at South Sixth street west and Orange street near the Parkway bridge is another of the city’s modern recreational centers. It was recently improved by the construction of a children’s wading pool on a plot of ground adjacent to the park.

          Anderson park, a half-acre of ground between Higgins avenue and the intersection of Blaine and Tremont streets is the smallest of the city parks.

          McCormick park, a gift of the McCormick family, is a grassy triangle at the junction of Alder street and Toole avenue. Also donated by the McCormicks is the newly developed area known as the McCormick Recreation park. Work was begun on the grounds two years ago and is scheduled for completion in July, 1941. Chief feature of the park is a large swimming pool and change house. Construction of the park was made possible by the allotment of WPA funds of which more than $175,000 has been allotted.


Franklin is Newest

          A donation to the city by school district No. 1 made possible the Franklin park, youngest of all the city parks, a six-acre tract near the Franklin school. Work of the Park board during 1936 improved the area and opened it for a children’s playground. It is bounded by Ninth and Tenth streets, on the north and south, and Kemp street and Shilling street on the east and west.

          Relatively undeveloped as yet is Island park, located below the Higgins avenue bridge. A project of the Rotary club, the area has been improved to a small extent only as funds were available.

          Visioning a continued growth of Missoula in years to come, and a consequent need for the expansion of the city parks, the City park board has made plans for the future of the parking system. Projects of park improvement and expansion for the future include the improvement of the Kiwanis park with the addition of a wading pool, swings and merry-go-rounds and the improvement of the tennis courts.

          An adult recreational center in the area immediately to the north of the Parkway bridge is another project slated for the future. Here a large area could be developed and devoted to handball and tennis courts, and adult swimming pool and a softball field in addition to the necessary buildings.

          A South Side park, in the area directly south of the Parkway bridge may sometime in the future become a general recreational center with a dance hall, merry-go-round and other park equipment.

          Completion of the Island park would give the city a natural outdoor civic center, the park board feels. Outdoor conventions, band concerts and University and high school rallies would find the spot well fitted for their purposes.

          Beautification of the filled-in section along the bank of the Missoula river and the construction of a boating lagoon near the Polleys mill are other projects contemplated by the board.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 December 2012 16:46