Lincoln Park - 9TH & 10TH AVE, 7TH & 9TH STS.

 Print Listing Historical Name - Lincoln Park
Style - N/A
Built Year - 1870
State ID - 5WL756

Description - Lincoln Park is a ten-acre space occupying two blocks bordered by 9th and 10th Avenues and 7th and 9th Streets. Surrounded by a mixture of public buildings and a business district, Lincoln Park has always marked the center of downtown Greeley. Over its 126 year history, it has been the home of a multitude of memorials, gardens, sculptures and public structures. Eighth Street bisected the park from approximately 1972 to 1984. Originally Lakes Luna and Auricular, named for their shapes, occupied the south and north halves of the park. During the winters, Lake Luna was used for ice-skating. Both lakes were drained after a few years due to problems with mosquitoes and flooding in near-by buildings. In 1885, Greeley drilled its first artesian well in the center of the park’s south half. In 1907, after Greeley’s waterworks were constructed, the Pioneer Fountain replaced the well at a cost of $500. Designed by Normal School professor Richard Ernesti, the fountain consisted of stone from Colorado Springs, sea shells from Maine, a petrified snake and other assorted items. The contractor was Thomas Gibbeon. The Greeley Tribune sponsored train excursions to the mountains in order to help raise money for the publicly-funded project. In 1906, Greeley philanthropist J.M.B. Petrikin donated Greeley’s first drinking fountain. Located at the corner of 8th Street and 9th Avenue, this “handsome and useful ornament” boasted six places to drink: four for people and two for dogs. The fountain is now located at Centennial Village Museum. Lincoln Park acquired a new bandstand when the original was moved to East Side Park in the Germans from Russia neighborhood. In 1943, the Weld County Honor Roll veteran’s memorial was built in the southeast corner of the park. It remained until at least 1976. Another veteran’s memorial was built in the southwest corner in 1972. In 1990, Allnut Funeral Services and the City of Greeley sponsored a garden memorial in the colors and shape of an American flag. Other notable additions include “The Promise of the Prairie,” a bronze statue of a pioneer family placed in 1993, modern abstract sculptures, and a playground. (Source of information for this section is Memo from Ben Fogelberg to Historic Preservation Commission Re: Request for Certificate of Designation for Lincoln Park, August 12, 1996.)

Historical Background - John F. Sanborn drew the first plan of Greeley in April 1870, including a two-block park in the central part of town. The First Annual Report of the Union Colony of Colorado states that, “A plaza or square of 10 acres was laid out in the center of town and two miniature lakes, one called Luna and the other Auricular, from their respective shapes, were constructed and filled with water. Trees from Phoenix Nurseries at Bloomington, Illinois, were set out in the plaza and through the public streets.” By 1882, the young park was bordered by Greeley High School, the Baptist and Congregational Churches, a business district and a few homes. In 1871, the Union Colony deeded to the Town of Greeley all of its holdings within the town limits, including Lincoln Park. In a Greeley Tribune editorial twenty years later, J. Max Clark alluded to an “express understanding” that the land be set apart forever for “specific purposes.” An unidentified newspaper clipping further illuminates the intentions of the Union Colonists by stating that, “New Englanders (the majority of the colonists were from New England) were not content without a “common” or park in the city, and everyone agreed that it must be handy and not too far from the business part of the city.” In 1872, the land-use controversy began. At a Town Board meeting, a resolution was introduced to cut a 100-foot wide street through the park. Some argued that a road would provide easy access to the business district from the residential areas west of the park. The Greeley Tribune, a perennial supporter of the park, countered by stating that, “Several persons are making desperate efforts to have the street divide the park that they may more easily get the rest of it laid off into town lots. These eager, selfish land speculators, totally indifferent to adorning the town must not be allowed to destroy what little beauty it now possesses.” Eight street bisected the park from 9th to 10th Avenues, but the park was not divided into lots. In 1910, after Lincoln Park had firmly established itself in the hearts of Greeley citizens who gathered there for band concerts, harvest festivals and sports, the city again considered dividing up the land for business lots. One angry citizen, a self-described member of the “Old Guard,” wrote a colorful letter to the Tribune. “If anyone should seriously propose [to dispose of the city parks], I think there are enough of the old guard left to hang him next morning.” He further reminded “anyone with enough influence [Greeley’s] affairs worth considering... should look to the tenure of the title by which the city holds the parks.” The attempt to sell off the park was again abandoned. During the park’s centennial year, Greeley’s Downtown Renewal Committee contemplated using a strip along the park’s east side to alleviate the “parking crunch.” True to form, the Tribune attacked the proposal, citing alternate parking solutions. Summing up its opinion, the Tribune stated, “The plan [for additional parking] must call for development without reducing the size or beauty of Lincoln Park. The park was left to this generation as an open space within a bustling city and we must be forever on guard against encroachment in order to be able to pass it on to future generations.” In 1984, the city completed the final phase of a $5.2 million downtown renovation project. This phase included the removal of the block-long stretch of 8th Street which bisected the park. The area was re-landscaped and the center gazebo rehabilitated. Lincoln Park’s inclusion in the ambitious project symbolized the city’s realization that the park is a vital and necessary component of Greeley’s downtown. Various annual events and activities also contributed to the park’s history. In the early 1900s, band concerts were held, featuring local musicians. During the World War II era, Greeleyites could be found playing serious games of checkers on make-shift tables. Arts Picnic is the largest and most popular of recent events. Held each July, it features fine arts, crafts, entertainment and multi-ethnic foods. Intermittently through the park’s history, Easter and Memorial Day services have also been held.