The Beginning - 1928-1939
Photo: W.W. Knight (courtesy of The Blade)
August 1, 1928 - Lucas County Probate Court Judge O'Brien O'Donnell signs a decree approving Toledo City Council's application to create a Metropolitan Park District within Lucas County.
July 6, 1929 - Toledo Metropolitan Park Board meets for the first time. Board members are: W.W. Knight, president; W.W. Farnsworth and Walter F. Brown.
January 1930 - The park board receives its first appropriation from the Lucas County Commissioners -- $20,000.
March 6, 1930 - Gabriel C. Harman is hired as secretary-engineer at a salary of $4,000 per year.
August 7, 1930 - The board leases land along the former Maumee side cut from the Ohio Department of Public Works for $100 per year for two years. The parkland, including all land from Lock 1 to Lock 6, becomes Side Cut Park.
November 4, 1930 - The Metropolitan Park District's first levy request goes before voters. The 0.1-mill, 10-year levy, which would fund new parkland on the Maumee and Ottawa rivers, Ten Mile Creek, Lake Erie and other forest lands, is defeated.
August 1932 - W.W. Farnsworth resigns from the board to become executive secretary at a salary of $250 per month. W.M. Booker is appointed to fill the board vacancy.
February 16, 1934 - The board approves a resolution to acquire the 280-acre Banklands property in Oregon Townships from the Starrland Co. and 40 adjacent acres owned by the Blodgett family. At a recognition dinner the following June, the Banklands Park committee surprises Toledo Blade reporter George W. Pearson by announcing that the park will be named in his honor. On August 30, 1934 dedication ceremonies are held for the new Pearson Park featuring a pageant about the city's history. Wooden nickels are distributed, and more than 3,000 people attend.
April 1935 - Three park employees are appointed as the first park police officers: J. Max Shepherst, Louis Sweitzer and H.J. Delventhal.
1935 - Bend View, upriver from Indianola Island, becomes the sixth Metropark with about 1,000 feet of river frontage. The Works Progress Administration will develop the park.
September 1935 - Work is under way on $200,000 worth of projects by the Works Progress Administration at Bend View, Providence, Pearson, Waterville, Side Cut and Swanton parks. That fall, about 700 men with the WPA are working in the parks, including 400 at Pearson. By December, about 800 men are at work at Pearson alone.
May 1936 - Oak Openings Park is under development with 5,000 transplanted evergreens and two man-made lakes to "make the spot attractive to outdoor nature lovers," according to board minutes.
May 1936 - A beach at Farnsworth opens on Memorial Day with a fleet of new steel rowboats and lifeguards provided by the American Red Cross.
September 1937 - W.W. Knight asks director-secretary W.W. Farnsworth to leave the room during a board meeting. While he is out, Knight and fellow board member William Booker decide to rename Waterville Park in Farnsworth's honor.
August 1938 - With the recent acquisition of 272 acres and the WPA ready to proceed with a $375,000 project, plans are unveiled for development of Oak Openings Park. Plans include a six-acre lake, wildflower garden, bird sanctuary and picnic grounds. A group of prominent Toledoans has agreed to purchase 365 additional acres to add to the park.
August 1938 - More than 1,400 WPA men are currently employed in the Metroparks.
1938 - A roller skating rink and tennis court officially open at Pearson. The 220-foot-long, 120-foot-wide oval rink is the largest outdoor skating rink in Ohio.
January 1939 - Watson Wales Farnsworth dies at age 83 in his Waterville home. An obituary notes that he had been at work at his desk in the courthouse just a week earlier. J. Max Shepherst, landscape architect for the park district, is named secretary-director.