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Look Back: Parkersburg park, pavilion take shape

City of Parkersburg Buys a Park

In 1887, the Parkersburg Agricultural and Mechanical Corporation purchased 40+ acres, east of Parkersburg, then thought by many to be far out of town. The grounds soon became not only noted fair grounds, but the site of horse racing, bicycle races and even sprints and endurance races between local athletes. The center piece of the grounds was a Horticultural Hall, a large frame building used for displays and exhibits during the fairs.

In 1897, Charles Shattuck, president of the Agricultural and Mechanical Corporation, optioned the property to the City of Parkersburg, which they purchased for $20,000. The grounds had unofficially been referred to as “The City Park.” After the purchase, the city changed the name of the grounds to “Oak Wood Park.” In 1911, the name was officially changed to “City Park.” In 1906 Shattuck began work on a new park in south Parkersburg. Shattuck Park and Fairgrounds became one of the most popular sites in the state and home of the West Virginia State Fair for many years.

The original Horticultural Hall served City Park until 1925 when the mayor and council decided that a new, more modern building was needed:

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Receive Bids For New Park Pavilion; Large Dance Hall Will Be Feature Of The Ahrendt Memorial

Bids for the erection of the Ahrendt Memorial pavilion, to be erected on the site of the present pavilion [the old Horticultural Hall], are being received at the office of Harry R. Nay, architect, retained by city council to make plans and specifications for the structure.

Approximately $15,000 is available for the building, and Architect Nay has prepared plans for a beautiful structure to come within that amount. The will of the late Christian Ahrendt, left $5,000 dollars for a memorial, and the city council has appropriated $10,000 additional.

The plans, as drawn by the architect, call for a building 150 by 70 feet, outside dimension. The lower concourse will be of brick, and will be of the open type, providing for free ventilation during the hot summer months, and dropping doors will be provided, so that the hall can be enclosed in cold weather.

A dance hall is provided for, 40 by 70 feet, with a 15-foot promenade around the hall. A brass rail will separate the dancers from the spectators, and at the four corners will be refreshment stands. At one end of the building, a picnic space, 70 by 80 feet will be provided, and benches and tables installed. At the other end of the hall will be a stage 26 feet wide, and deep enough to meet any demands that may be made on it.

The floor of the entire structure will be of concrete. The section in the dance hall will be treated with a soap solution, filling the pores of the concrete, and making a smooth and slick floor.

The roof will be of asbestos with metal trimmings and will be of the mansard type. Inside, the trusses supporting the roof will be concealed by a screen of latticework 24 feet from the floor, which will serve the added purpose of permitting the hall to be decorated conveniently.

Burdette Woodyard, superintendent of the city park, stated that the same plan of letting the pavilion for picnics and dances would be followed that has been in vogue in the past. Arrangements will be made ahead of time, sufficiently far in advance to permit him keeping a small booking system.

[NOTE: the present City Park pavilion will soon be 100 years old!]

The Parkersburg News

Jan. 3, 1925

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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