Anniversary and Community Fields

WALKING TOUR

The Kestrel Land Trust is attempting to renew the area. STORY

Anniversary and Community Fields are joined parks within Holyoke that were built up during the 1920s and 1930s. Anniversary Hill Park was made in Holyoke for the 50th anniversary of the city of Holyoke. This was in 1923. The field runs from Northampton Street up to the top of Crafts Hill. The top portion borders against Community Field.

Nowadays Easthampton Road and the Interstate 91 both cross Anniversary Hill. Once upon a time only Easthampton Road would come down the Anniversary Hill. Since the hill was a cleared area due to its being a farmed area, people could ski on the hill.

Anniversary Field

In 1929 Anniversary Field (at the Northampton Street base of the park) received a radical make over into a recreational area. A baseball field, a football field, a basketball court, a bowling green, and a horseshoe court were added. Anniversary Field was dedicated Labor Day 1935. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked on the area on the top also and made many trails. In 1942 an archery range and in 1941 a football field were added to Anniversary Field. In that year also a group called the Committee on Public Safety would use Scott Tower as a plane spotter location. In 1943 the Signal Corp soldiers used the tower as a signal and observation lookout. In 1948 a new ice rink was placed into Anniversary Field and a new roadway was added to Community Field.

In 1967, a new pool funded by the state was started at Anniversary Field (it would be ready on August 1 1968). This would be called Chmura Pool. It was located at the very top of Crafts Hill.

Crafts Tavern and the Lynch School

At the base of the hill was Crafts Tavern. This was a very old building that had served Holyoke well since its beginning. In 1950 the Lynch Junior High School would replace it. (Lynch was completed in 1952.) Holyoke tried to sell the tavern but there were no takers since the building would have to be moved. In 1958 a new softball field is added.

Scotts Tower

In 1939 a new tower was built here and called Walter Scott Memorial Tower. It was dedicated on December 24th of that year. It was named after Walter Scott (FINDAGRAVE) the donor of this land. During its first year it had thousands of visitors. On its grounds, were added 32 fireplaces and 22 picnic tables. In 1936 Anniversary Hill Park had had its summit name changed to Walter Scott Field. There must have been a plaque placed by Jarvis Avenue since in 1943 the city registry reports that it was moved to easterly side of the tower. In 1941 a cabin was constructed at the entrance to the Scott Memorial Tower. In 1955 a paved lookout is added to the east of the tower and trees removed from that area. In 1956 a parking lot was added just to the south of the tower along with some more trails.

Bowling on the Green

Floodlights were added to Bowling on a Green in the 1940s. The Holyoke Bowling Club would be started at some point. It was decided in 1954 that the Anniversary Field Bowling Green would no longer host major state and New England tournaments as it once did. However, from July 29 to August 3 of 1962, the New England Lawn Bowling Association Tournament was held here. In 1967 there was heavy damage from rainstorms into Green area (this was due to the slopes below the new interstate being not drained well).

Skiing and Sledding in Anniversary Field

Beginning in 1941 skiing was allowed on the slope of Anniversary Hill. This would become known as Ski Run. The smaller slopes on the northerly side were used by younger people. A toboggan slide was made in 1952.

A downhill run of about 600 feet was possible from the top of Anniversary Hill Park to the bottom in Anniversary Field. Easthampton Road was off to the side until the mid-1960s so it was a clear run. It is not known if there was a lift but images do not show one so the people must have climbed the hill to ski it.

At some point of time between 1915 and 1946 the Dwight Street Extension was put in.

Dillon Avenue is to the right of the ski run in the image.

Interstate 91

From 1963 to 1965, Interstate 91 would be constructed through both Anniversary Field and Community Field. It cut both into two parts of their own. Since they were contiguous parklands, one could know say that there were 3 parklands – Anniversary Field, Community Field, and Anniversary-Community Hill. The interstate would take 40 acres in total from the parklands.

Community Field

As for Community Field, the land was not developed for a while due to lack of funds. The park had been dedicated on October 31, 1925 but it had to wait to be developed.it was developed into a recreational area in 1934. For example a wading pool was added that year and in the wintertime that pool transformed into an ice rink. This was done by the Works Progress Administration.

In 1936 and 1937 a gravel road was added to the top of Anniversary Hill Park. In 1936 one hundred trees are added. 500 feet of cinder walks are put in. Also landscaping of the grounds around the dinosaur tracks is done. In 1939 a shelter house and a baseball diamond were added.

The wading pool has water from Day Brook. Day Brook passed near to the Jarvis Avenue landfill. In 1953 a new wading pool was added. In 1954 the roadway was drastically improved and the name was changed to Community Park. In 1956 hiking trails are added. In 1958 a new softball field is added.

In 1961 the parks department offers Holyoke Junior Community College 45 acres within Community Field. (Obviously, never taken up.)

[Sanborn map analysis do not help on these parks.]

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