Lincoln Park

Thirza Skinner Pelton and her husband Brewster Pelton purchased the land that became Lincoln Park in 1850 from Francis Branch, the son of a Connecticut pioneer who settled what is now the Tremont neighborhood in 1818. The Peltons intended part of the land they purchased to become the campus of the new Cleveland University. The wealthy couple had come to Cleveland from the nearby college town of Oberlin, OH, where they operated a boarding house for students. Things did not work out as planned: Mrs. Pelton, the primary benefactor of the new college, died in 1853 and Cleveland University soon closed. Altogether, CU graduated only 11 students. Only one of the buildings that composed the school’s campus survives: Tremont Place Lofts (formerly Union Gospel Press). Cleveland University’s plans also called for buildings to be erected on a private space owned by Ms. Pelton. This is the bucolic gathering spot we now call Lincoln Park.

After Mrs. Pelton’s death and the closing of Cleveland University, Brewster Pelton continued to keep the greens of Cleveland University—Pelton Park, as it came to be known—private. A fence and locked gates kept unwanted visitors out. In the late 1850s this became a source of great controversy as angry residents repeatedly destroyed the fence, demanding that the park be opened to the public. After Brewster’s death in 1872, Cleveland attempted to take control of the land but was prevented from doing so by the courts. Finally, in 1879, the City conducted successful negotiations with Brewster’s heirs and purchased the park for $50,000. On July 4, 1880, South Side Park (renamed Lincoln Park in 1896) opened to the public with an Independence Day gala that included a barbeque and long speeches by prominent politicians.

Images

Lincoln Park, ca. 1910

Lincoln Park, ca. 1910

Originally called Pelton Park and later South Side Park, the space was redeveloped and renamed Lincoln Park in 1896 to honor America's sixteenth president. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

South Side Park

South Side Park

This part of the Cuyahoga County Atlas of 1892 reveals the configuration of the walking paths on South Side Park in what is today the Tremont neighborhood. The park was named South Side park in 1879 when it was purchased from the heirs of Brewster Pelton, the South Side resident who had fought the city in court for years to keep the park private. The park was renamed Lincoln Park in 1896. | Source: Cleveland Public Library Map Collection View File Details Page

Lincoln Park, ca. 1910

Lincoln Park, ca. 1910

One of the tree-lined walking paths in the redeveloped and renamed park on the South Side of Cleveland. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

The first Concert in the Park held in Cleveland

The first Concert in the Park held in Cleveland

This article from the July 29, 1911, Plain Dealer describes the first band concert in a public park in Cleveland. It occurred on June 4, 1896, in South Side Park, renamed Lincoln Park in that same year. | Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Conservatory, ca. 1910

Conservatory, ca. 1910

The Lincoln Park conservatory was part of the re-development and renaming of South Side Park by the City of Cleveland in 1896. It reflected the City Beautiful movement in the country. Tremont's Lincoln Park may have indeed been modeled after the similarly named park in Chicago, the city that gave birth to the movement and whose own Lincoln Park also featured a conservatory. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Cleanup, 1978

Cleanup, 1978

Volunteers pick up leaves and garbage in Tremont's Lincoln Park, 1978. Lincoln Park continues to be the center of the Tremont neighborhood—a place where children play and where neighbors gather for community events such as art festivals and farmers markets. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Audio

"Common Ground"

Dr. John Grabowski, Krieger-Mueller Associate Professor in Applied History at Case Western Reserve University and Director of Research at The Western Reserve Historical Society, describes some of the places in Tremont where people of different ethnic backgrounds congregated. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Michael Rotman, “Lincoln Park,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 20, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/89.

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