Park History

 

The above early photograph shows one of the footpaths that once were in the Metamora Village Park.  In the background is the original wooden bandstand erected about 1874 and razed in 1931 when the present cobblestone bandstand was built to replace it.  The Village Constable stands on the footpath.  Notice the star badge he is wearing .The straight rows of trees can be seen in the park that Adlai E. Stevenson I claimed he helped to lay out and plant while he was a member of the Metamora Village Board.  Lawyer Stevenson practiced law at the Metamora Court House for ten years.  (1858-1868)

 

Cannon on display in the park during the winter of 1940-1941.

 

Old Settlers’ Days in the Metamora Village Park has been a tradition for over one hundred years.  The Old Settlers’ celebration began in 1875 as a Woodford County gathering starting with a picnic at noon.  It was held at various locations in the county until September 25, 1901.  At that time Metamora was selected to be the permanent place.  Prominent speakers, many times politicians, highlighted the day with a parade, bands, wrestling tournaments, games and dances.  The Metamora Herald, issue of August 31, 1934, reported that the crowd reached its maximum in the evening when it was estimated at about 7,000.  What began as a one day event now is a four day festival.

For a number of years now, a different band or group is featured each week providing a variety of music styles.  An ice cream social sponsored by a different organization each week serves homemade pies and cakes topped with ice cream.  It is a real treat for the hundreds of park visitors who come from nearby villages.      

Globe lamp posts were installed in 1990

Sidewalks were replaced in 1997.

 

History of the Metamora Village Park

Surveyors of the Hanover Company laid out the Village of Hanover (now Metamora) in 1836. The plan included an open space of 300 feet by 300 feet in the center of the village, designated by Agent William Davenport as a public square.

In June 1865 Surveyors recorded a plat using a blue marble stone 41 by 21 by 13 inches at the NE corner of the public square. A boulder 14 by 13 by 16 inches on the SE corner. Other stones were set at the NW and SW corners of the square and throughout the village.

A quote from the 1887 Woodford Sentinel – "The Town Board is talking of putting a fence around the square. We hope it is not all wind"

In 1900, the Village Board gave permission to order five Economy gas lamps to be placed around the public square. Hitching posts and water troughs were a common sight around the park during the horse and buggy days.

In 1915-1916 diagonal concrete walks took the place of footpaths. 

In 1921 Congressman Frank H. Funk of Bloomington introduced a bill for the donation of one German cannon from the store of such arms captured during World War I. In August the barrel of the cannon arrived. The barrel was a three-inch rifled muzzle loader, model of 1861. It was shipped from an arsenal in New Jersey. The trucks arrived a few weeks later. They were of the 1895 type, undoubtedly having been made for service in the Spanish American war.

The photo submitted by Kenneth Willman shows the cannon still on display in the park during the winter of 1940-1941. In October of 1942, the Metamora Herald reported that during Metamora’s third scrap iron drive, a parade to celebrate the success of the event was held. The parade was headed by the old Civil War cannon from the park, mounted on a truck with an old church bell ringing. Both had been consigned to the scrap heap.

To further enhance the park three and five globe lamp posts were installed in 1990.  The sidewalks were replaced in 1997.  A redbird etched in the cement can be seen on the north side of the bandstand.   

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Send any old photos and related stories concerning the Metamora Village Park to 

Shirley A. Adams, PO Box 288, Metamora, IL 61548.

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