Columbia Neighborhood's Elizabeth Park



History of Elizabeth Park     The Current Gazebo     Inventory of  Trees in Elizabeth Park

History of Elizabeth Park
Bellingham's first official park was created  in 1884 on land donated by Captain Henry Roeder. The park was known as the Walnut Street Park until it  was later named, Elizabeth Park, in honor of Roeder's wife Mary Elizabeth.  A brief history of the park's creation appears in an article written by Aaron Joy, entitled "A Brief History of Whatcom Parks,"  in Whatcom Watch Online Volume 9, Issue 7, July 2000.  (Scroll down or Search on Page)   The New Whatcom Ladies Cooperative society was instrumental in developing  Elizabeth Park on the land donated by Captain Roeder.  Funds were raised and a bandstand was built.   The development of Walnut Street Park was finally completed in 1905 under the guidance of Park Commissioner Roland G. Gamwell.  The plans for the part were attributed to the Olmstead Brothers firm in Brookline Massachusetts  See also Notes from the History of Whatcom County by Lottie Roth

Joy's history notes that on September 11, 1901 in Walnut Street Park, the Adams Military Band had the pleasure of presenting the first band concert held to raise money for the painting of the newly completed bandstand. At the concert Mayor Bacon remarked “this was a unique occasion in the history of the town, as it was the first actual donation to the city, and upon ground donated to the city.”

First Bandstand

The estate of G. Morris Haller, of Seattle,  donated the Haller Fountain in 1910.  It was placed in the center of the lake. It was ornamented by a trio of small girls lining its bowl and five larger female statues (one at the base and one in the bowl), all designed by local Swedish sculptor Knute Evertz.  

Fountain


The beautiful little park was the pride of the community for years with concerts Fourth of July picnics, and even a full time grounds keeper.   See Reminiscences of Elizabeth Park. The park began to lose its beauty during the depression and  World War II. Over time the lake was reduced to a large pond.  The wooden bridge was replace by a concrete bridge.  Eventually the bandstand deteriorated and was torn down in the 1944.   In the late 1950's the remaining ponds and the swimming pool were filled in.  The fountain was dismantled and  put into storage.  To celebrate the centennial of the park,  the Eldridge Society and the Parks Department began a restoration process of the park.  A fountain was returned to the park using  parts of the original fountain that were recovered,  A  portion of it was lost and it is hoped that sometime that too will be returned to the park.

The Current Gazebo

In 1984, in honor of Elizabeth Park’s Centennial (1884-1984) the Eldridge Society built a gazebo in the park similar to the one built in 1901. The gazebo was dedicated on September 29, 1984   Article about building the new Gazebo, Eldridge Historic Society Newsletter.   See also a clipping from the Bellingham Herald, Elizabeth Park: A Return to the City Beautiful,  by Joan Connell, 9-23-1984.
Plans forthe gazebo were drawn using photographs of the original 1901 gazebo. Vic Trodella (Victor Trodella Architecture & Project Management Freeport Maine) drew up the plans for the Gazebo The Society’s Gazebo Committee Rick Fackler, Glenn Eastwood, Kelly Kendall, Rob Visser and John Clark, was charged with developing and overseeing the project. . Rob Visser of Visser Millworks generously donated some of the materials and time. . Most of the construction was done by a local contractor Steve Marx with finishing work done by Eldridge volunteers.

The gazebo was constructed at a cost of more than $11,000 not counting volunteer labor. $4,000 was received from the city. After construction there were not enough funds to paint the structure so letters were sent to local businesses requesting additional donations , Georgia Pacific offered $100 toward painting if other corporations would cover the remaining $275; Interlace and Arc each gave $50.  In 2002 the Gazebo needed reroofing. The Eldridge Society provided the materials at a cost of $2317 and the city provided the labor.

The gazebo is rented out by Parks for small gatherings of 25 to 50 persons at an hourly rate of $ 10.00/hour or $ 100.00/day. The Eldridge Society has use the gazebo for its events including the summer music concerts. The Society raises money. Principally through home tours to provide the summer concerts.

Inventory of Trees in the Park

A tree inventory (PDF file) has been created by John Wesselink