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Parks Pick-Me-Up

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board is launching a new series called Parks Pick Me Up, where our staff, partners and visitors share fun things to do and see in our parks.

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Aug 13

Phelps Grove Park History

Posted on August 13, 2020 at 12:26 PM by Kara Remington

Phelps Grove Park History
950 E. Bennett St, Springfield, MO 65807

Today’s Park Pick-Me-Up is a Throwback Thursday featuring Phelps Grove Park, which opened in 1914. Phelps Grove was one of the first two parks created by the then-new Park Board. Special thanks to The History Museum on the Square for sharing these historic photos. Did you know:

  1. The rock bridge over Fassnight Creek at Brookside Drive and Virginia Avenue is original to the park, but the rock lining along Fassnight Creek was added by the WPA in the 1930s
  2. When Phelps Grove was new, it was just outside city limits (which ended at Grand Street.) To get folks to visit this park “way out in the boonies,” a shuttle bus was offered
  3. The pavilion was added in 1916, and was designed by the same architect that designed the Greene County Historic Courthouse, Archibald Torbitt. The pavilion has burned down and been rebuilt twice
  4. Phelps Grove was home to the Park Board’s first zoo! The zoo included buffalo, deer and alligators! Outlines of former zoo enclosure may be found today in the grass northwest of the pavilion. The zoo was moved to its present location, Dickerson Park Zoo, in 1923
  5. Phelps Grove extended eastward to the area that’s now the @Springfield Art Museum. The present-day museum grounds were once the site of a man-made lake, created by damming Fassnight Creek and intended as a swimming hole and a scenic feature. However, the lake was too muddy for swimming, and it caused flooding and bred mosquitoes, so it was drained in 1928.
  6. The Victims Memorial Garden was originally built in the 1950s as a fish and waterlily pond. The centerpiece was a Carthage marble statue of a crouching boy holding a frog, sculpted by Roberta Stoneman Baker and installed in 1956. In the 1990s, the statue was vandalized and the head of the boy disappeared. The headless statue was removed and the pond was later filled in to become a garden.

Be smart while visiting Phelps Grove or any park or trail: stay six feet away from others, avoid gathering in groups, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you’re showing symptoms of illness.

Tag(s): Video, Explore

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