History of Parks and Grounds
Charlottesville Va Parks and Grounds

    In the early 1900's, the citizens of Charlottesville enjoyed various leisure activities, even though the city had no recreation department at the time.  The Frye Springs Hotel and Park sponsored an Outdoor Theatre and Dance Pavilion where plays and dances were performed.  Monticello held annual celebrations on Jefferson's birthday and the Fourth of July.  Speeches and patriotic programs were also offered by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  In 1923, the Fourth of July celebration was moved to the home of John Armstrong Chanoler, one of Charlottesville's most eccentric and generous citizens.  The celebration consisted of food, games, and fireworks.  John Chanoler also set up a free movie theatre at his home, Merrie Mills.  Paul Goodloe McIntire provided the impetus for many speeches and parades.

   The University of Virginia offered "farmer trains" where farmers would gather to show their produce and study exhibits about improving farming methods.

   A Mardi Gras was sponsored by the American Legion each June in which shows, riding contests, and dancing were highlights of the evening.

   By the mid 1920's there was a definite and growing need for city-wide recreation programs and facilities.  The Mother's Club, knowing that Paul McIntire had donated Lee, Jackson and Belmont Parks, appealed to him to donate additional land to the city for the purpose of developing parks.  On January 22, 1926, McIntire donated the land which would become Washington and McIntire Parks.  The Mother's Club and McIntire persuaded the city to establish a board of citizens to develop a Department of Recreation.

   Mrs. R. L. Currier was the first director of the Department of Recreation established in 1933.  She was employed part-time at a salary of $50 per month.  The charter members of the recreation committee were: Mrs. Tuthill, Mrs. Burruss, Mrs. Walters, Judge Groves, Dr. Dwight Chalmers, Frank Edwards, R.C. Heidloff, Frank Hartman, George Eutsler and L.P. Ludwig.  Mrs. Tuthill and R.C. Heidloff served on the board until 1950, and Dr. Chalmers was the first chairman.  The board was responsible for providing all the play equipment and some salaries needed to operate the Recreation Department.

   By June of 1934, the Recreation Department had a budget of $3,000.  From 1937 to 1950, the city gave the department $75,363 and the department made $91,059 from charges to special events, rental of facilities, donations and gifts.  In 1949, a 10 member Recreation Advisory Board came into being and the city assumed financial responsibility.  This board has since evolved into the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

   The Parks and Cemetery Division and the Recreation Department merged in 1973 to become the Parks and Recreation Department.  Previous to this the Parks and Cemetery Division had been part of the Public Works Department.  As the City has grown, its needs have grown and changed too; in response to this, the City split the Parks and Recreation Department into two divisions.  One became the Recreation Division and the other is the Parks and Grounds Division.

   The Parks and Grounds Division is responsible for maintaining and improving the physical appearance of the city including its parks, playgrounds, thoroughfares, school grounds and the Downtown Mall.  The Division is also responsible for the operation and maintenance of two public city cemeteries: Maplewood and Oakwood

Timeline of Park Acquisitions
1917 Lee Park 1960 Rothwell Park
1919 Jackson Park 1963 Meadowcreek Park
1921 Belmont Park 1965 Azalea Park
1926 McIntire Park 1965 Greenbrier Park
1926 Washington Park 1970 Pen Park
1930 Quarry Park 1971 Jordan Park
1945 Meade Park 1974 McGuffey Park
1946 Tonsler Park 1974 Riverview Park
1949 Fifeville Park 1975 Northeast Park
1952 Rives Park 1979 Bailey Park
1952 Greenleaf Park 1979 Ivy Creek Natural Area
1955 Forest Hills Park 1980 Starr Hill Park

 City of Charlottesville Parks and Grounds

Revised 6/29/01 by Stowe Keller


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