The Park

The first piece of property owned by the VIA was given by Albert Dickinson. On December 21, 1915, he gave to the Orange City Village Improvement Association property to be used as a public park and kept by the Village Improvement Association for this purpose. On March 14, 1916, a second deed was given to the VIA by Albert Dickinson, this being the rest of the north half of Block 1, which together comprises all of Dickinson Park.

Buildings on the land were relocated so that all that was left was a piece of ground well seeded with sandspurs, cockleburs and stick-tights. Although at the time, the VIA had about 60 members, money was scarce, so clean-up days were held. Each woman got her husband or friend, or in some cases, a hired man to do the work of the husband, and they cleaned the lot, cut the grass, dug out weeds, and trimmed trees. The park got a good dressing-up. The women put on a fine picnic dinner, and a good time was had by all.

For many years, Lois Leavitt was head of the park committee. Two square brick pillars were placed at each corner and double-gates hung. A stout wire fence was put all around the park to prevent stray cattle from eating the flowers and shrubs. A cedar tree in honor of a past president, Mrs. Laura Epplesheimer, and an azalea bed in honor of another past president, Isabella Dunlap Gerhardt, were planted.

In the mid-1920s, the Chamber of Commerce built the fountain and the walks leading to it from each of the four corners. The first seats, placed in shady areas, were of wood and needed annoying attention. Later, the VIA purchased good metal seats.

For many years, the City has held a lease on the Park from the VIA. Now, in exchange for the park, the VIA maintains occupancy of the Albertus Cottage, one of the buildings relocated from the park and library property in 1916.

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