Elmwood Park

  • This is one of many Olmsted designs in Holyoke. Read about the rest at this LINK.
  • Private GROUP TOUR (COSTS) is two hours long for this Elmwood Park and Neighborhood walking tour.
  • A free public tour comes up every five years.
  • A self-tour is available for anyone using the maps and text seen below.

Elmwood Park of Holyoke is called the park that disappeared. Still if one looks they will see its remnants everywhere. Its land was purchased by the city over decades to make a unified park and then soon afterward it started to be divided up again. In 1935, Elmwood Park received a beautification effort. The Beech Street Park portion of Elmwood Park got lily ponds, a rustic bridge, a stone lookout, steps, and a wall.

Park at the Fitzpatrick’s Ice Rink

stop 1 – Fitzpatrick’s Ice Rink

stop 2 – Ross Street and the Dingle

This is the lower area of the Elmwood Park. It was replaced by the Interstate 391 terminus. The Ward 6 pool, the original Sheard Park, and the Dingle were down there. Ross Street’s remnant is visible but only its lowered section. The upper section went into the park.

Into this part of Elmwood Park in 1934 the ERA (Emergency Relief Administration) had terraces built. These were most along Jackson and Maple Street. The ERA had other projects around the city. The ERA lasted from 1933 to 1935 and it was at that time replaced by the WPA.

stop 3 – Sheard Park

Sheard Park is named after William Sheard of Holyoke who died in 1944 in Germany during WW2. This Sheard Park was made in 1961 as a playground dedicated to him. There is a rock with a plaque at the eastern corner of the park. The park before that was called Pool Park. His FINDAGRAVE page.

This was the last remnant of Elmwood Park. The steps lead into the park. It was renamed Sheard Park when that park was removed by the interstate.

stop 4 – Churchill neighborhood

The Churchill neighborhood has many buildings in it. Mostly there are churches galore. See my tour of the Sacred Heart Church.

stop 5 – Roberts Sport Field

Includes the Roland Pouliot Pool and the Morneau Tennis Courts. This area was once called Alumni Field.

stop 6 – John Young Field

Dedicated on May 18th 1986 to John Young a softball advocate.

The land was originally called Ranlet Parcel. It was purchased in 1908. This field was in 1917 given by the parks division of the city over to the playgrounds division. It was called the Beech Street Grounds or the Beech Street Playground.

stop 7 – Oakdale Neighborhood

Oakdale starts on the other side of Beech Street. It was formed as a streetcar suburb in the late 1890s.

stop 8 – MacKenzie Field

Once called the Ball Tract, the Range, and the Beech Street Grounds, now it is called MacKenzie Field. It was dedicated with that name on September 4 1939.

Before that it was graded over many years with one such year being 1929 when the Parks Department commented that it needed very much work and that the dingle area near it was ugly. Starting in 1930 the park was made into a sports recreation area. 2 diamonds, 2 football grids, 1 soccer field, a basketball court, and a golf range were added. It was made in 1932 as a sports complex. Then the WPA Works Progress Administration came to Holyoke to perform many projects and this was one of them. They the WPA built the stadium and the shelter house.

In 1935 the Beech Street Playground had figure and speed skating exhibitions that attracted 1000s of fans that would line the rink. The annual Ice Carnival was attended by the Holyoke Figure Skating Club among other groups in and outside the city. The largest crowd might have been at the Feb 2 1941 edition.

In 1940 MacKenzie Field had a baseball diamond (last week of May), a quarter mile cinder track (along with long jump and pole vault areas), and some tennis courts added to it. Also an iron fence was added to the field with a base of fieldstones. In 1941 basketball courts were made at the field and this would be a staple of the area for many years. In 1942 MacKenzie Field was changed from a park into a playground a move which allowed fares to be charged.

stop 9 – Holyoke High School

This is the third location of Holyoke High School. The first location was on Elm Street were the Holyoke Juvenile Court is located. It lasted from 1862 to 1898. The second location was between Beech Street and Pine and between Sargeant and Hampshire. This lasted from 1898 to 1964.

stop 10 – Holyoke Hospital

There have been many hospitals in Holyoke over the years. City Hospital was built in 1890 by the leading industrialists of the city. The hospital had land both in front of and in back of the hospital buildings. There it made winding dirt paths. It also held land across Beech Street. This was acquired by the city in 1907 as an addition to Elmwood Park.

stop 11 – Yankee Pedlar

The Yankee Pedlar has gone through many changes in its history. Read the excellent BOOKLET by People’s Bank. The home was built in 1882 by John Hildreth.

stop 12 – Crosier Field

Crosier Field was once called Soldiers’ Field and also called Elmwood Field. The first official name was given on July 4 1932 at a dedication ceremony – it was named Soldiers’ Field. It was renamed on Armistice Day 1939 to Crosier Field. It is now both a neighborhood park and a schoolyard.

In 1932 the maple trees along the western edge of the park were planted to honor the Spanish American War deaths. Two stones at the northwest corner of the park explain these facts. The maples were bought and planted by William Crosier from his own pocket. Along this western edge of the play area there once was a steep contour right up to the road. The maples were added to the new tree belt that was added there. Along the northern edge of the park there are a row of trees that honor the WW1 deaths of Holyoke and these were planted by a veterans group.

A brownstone drinking fountain was gifted to the park in 1932 by Ellen Ives to honor her brother Dwight Ives.

In 1942 a shelter house was added to the field along with a baseball backstop. Too many baseball were being lost into the dingle.

Elmwood Park covered the east portion of the park and went all the way to Carlton Street. There it bordered Carlton Street School.

stop 13 – Carlton Street School

In 1908 the entrance from the Elmwood area was purchased so people could get into the park from near the school. This area used to be part of that very large Dingle that defined Elmwood Park. In 1910 a baseball field was finally made in this Elmwood Field.

In 1917 a great deal was done to fill in the Carlton Street end of the Dingle. This part of the juncture of Peck, Crosier, and Carlton was called the Elmwood Playground.

Farther up the area was the South Street School. This was renamed in 1904 to the Elmwood School.

stop 14 – Peck School

The school was built at the elbow of the Dingle area.

A roadway was built through Soldiers’ Field in 1935 starting at the Elmwood entrance down to the dingle onto the Beech Street Extension.

stop 15 – Elmwood neighborhood

Along Beech Street it seems that Elmwood is a new neighborhood but actually it is very old. Chapin Street has at its northern end as small street that bears to the right. This tiny street once lead into Elmwood Park and was considered to be its main entrance. After going down hill it meet the Day Brook. At that stream a bridge was built. One could cross the bridge and walk on a dirt road to Pine and Beech Streets.

stop 16 – Parkview Street

This is the northernmost of the five parallel streets that are to the north of South Street. It has a fine view of the Mount Holyoke Range to the north and a fine view of the Mount Tom Range to the west.

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