The Decorah Park Board and the Decorah Historic Preservation Commission announced that they will join forces to host a Centennial Celebration of the founding of Phelps Park (originally "City Park") and the Decorah Parks system on Monday, September 5, beginning at noon. A short program of music, memories and the history of the park and the parks system will begin at 1:30. Everyone is invited. Bring the whole family and a picnic lunch and dress in period costume. An ice cream dessert will be provided courtesy of the Decorah Rotary, plus popcorn courtesy of the Decorah Lions club. Music will be followed by a short history of the park and parks system presented by Elizabeth Lorentzen, and several past and present Park Board members will be recognized and honored for their service to the city. There will also be a display of historic photographs from period postcards from the considerable collection of Susan Jacobsen.
"We are so pleased to be able to partner with the Park Board to celebrate this important event in the history of Decorah" said Kyrl Henderson, Chair of the Decorah Historic Preservation Commission. "Bring the whole family and join the fun."
The Park was founded on September 6, 1911 according to the minutes of the Decorah City Council, which passed a resolution:
"Whereas, through the public spirited enterprise, and interposition of Mr. Severt Larsen, Mr. L. B. Whitney and Mr. H.J. Green citizens of the City of Decorah, there is now afforded to the City of Decorah, an opportunity to avail itself of a grant of land, for the purposes of a Public Park, through a deed of such grant, to the City of Decorah, obtained by these gentlemen from Mr. Milton Updegraff... (continues)"
The text of the full resolution from the minutes of the City Council will also be on display at the Phelps Park Centennial Celebration.
Anyone with anecdotes or photos of the parks past is encouraged to contact either Rick Edwards at the City Parks office or Kyrl Henderson of the Historic Preservation Commission (563 382 5975 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to share their stories and photos.
You can see the band stand in the background of this postcard of Phelps Park from the collection of Susan Jacobsen entitled "City Park Decorah Iowa". The note on the back is dated January 13, 1914. The committee hopes to recreate this kind of atmosphere in the park during the Phelps Park Centennial Celebration on Labor Day, September 5.