Friday, June 28, 2013

Dressing Boston Park

Dress:  Middle English, from Anglo-French drescer, dresser to direct, put right.

Our road guy who maintains the town hall grounds is, as my grandmother would have said, persnickety about their appearance.  I teased him once about adding soil, raking, seeding, generally grooming the hill that leads to the septic tank cover.  “It needs dressing,” he said of his fussing.    And, it’s no longer a weedy embankment, it’s a small, grassy hill with a large iron cover atop.

You remember Doug, the fellow who’s seen the president’s plane go over, and who helped save Sunny last summer.  At the last town board meeting Doug reported they began to dress Boston Park. 

That word again. I know I heard it often as a child, but in today’s world of stripped out communication, it too may be lost in a generation. 

Doug was pleased with the progress made dressing Boston Park; in the clean-up they uncovered hand cut sandstone walks they are resetting.  I went to take a look.  What a little gem.   There are hand cut sandstone walks, cut and fitted like a jig saw puzzle. 

These are being lifted from under years of sod.  There is a large stone planter, almost like a wishing well. 

It is an old time vignette, framed by cedar.

I asked the people I know about the Boston Park, and have an earful of fantastic and fantastical stories.  The stone planter was built by Shy Dickerson.  It was built for Shy Dickerson.  It was built in the 1930’s. The planter used to be a bubbler, fed by a spring up the hill behind the ski area.  The spring was piped down, filling first a stone watering trough on the west side of Riverview, then supplying the bubbler on the east side.  I heard someone up the hill was mad at someone down the hill and used the spring as a latrine, ruining it forever.  I even know the name associated with that story.  When Riverview was relocated a township resident petitioned both the county and the National Park to keep Boston Park intact, and succeeded.

This is all wonderful stuff if you like history.  I do.  Love the stories.  If they aren’t recorded, they’re lost.  And for Boston, it’s a struggle against the National Park, which is rewriting our history.  We maintain a history tab on the township website; the most visited part of our site.  It has languished recently, so I’ve thrown a challenge to the community to write the best history of Boston Park we can and post it on our web site.  Then, pick the next piece of history to save.  Boston Mills, for instance, is Boston Mills.  The Park doesn't get it; they call it Boston Mill, on their fake railroad station that used to be Shy Dickerson’s store and everywhere they mention it.  It’s time to dress Boston Park’s history, too, and then start on Boston Mills.

This National Park replica of a train station calls itself Boston Mill.  You see Boston Mills road east and west; Riverview Road is at the top.  Boston Mills crosses the Cuyahoga River a few hundred feet east.

I did not get the date of this picture; it's early 20th century.  There is a covered bridge over the river.  The triangle that is Boston Park is in the foreground, with a wooden road marker cross.

Number 3 is Boston Mills Road.  Number 2 is Riverview Road.  The top of the picture is south.  Use 5 and 6 as the base, visualize an equilateral triangle, and you;ll see Boston Park trees.   This map is 1954.

Finally, lifted right off the Summit County website, the platt for Boston Park.  Riverview runs north and south, Boston Mills east and west.  Old Riverview Road and the cut off road to Boston Mills Road drawn in.  Boston Park was the small triangle.  The cedar grove, stones and planter are at the intersection of Boston Mills and Riverview Roads.

When Riverview was relocated, about then years ago, a resident petitioned both the County and the National Park to leave Boston Park intact.  It was scheduled to become road right of way.  And  it is, but with about four inches of topsoil, a sign that says Boston Park, and a cedar grove in the corner. 


  1. The hand cut sandstones are beautiful. The way they are carefully fitted together reminds one of walls built by the Incas. It is probably a good thing they were covered by sod for many years as otherwise they would no doubt have been thought of as too primitive in the 50s and ripped out.

  2. Community names and railroad depot names didn't always agree. An example of this is the community of Everett which was known as Unionville until the railroad opened its depot and named it in honor of the railroad's treasurer, Sylvester T. Everett. When the depot first went up in 1880 in Boston it was also named "Boston." After the Clevleland Akron Bag Company opened in 1899, the railroad renamed their depot "Boston Mill." We have contemporaneous photos in our collection the names both ways. Over time people "apostrophed" the name but left out the apostrophe. Such as Steele's Corners Road (named after the Steele family) became Steels Corners.

    I cut and pasted the preceding paragraph from an email from a community resident, even before my quest goes into our local newspaper. Without apology to the Park, I take back my previous snarky comment. Such an example of lost history.

  3. It's always good to learn local history and hearsay, good story about the stone wishing well, those bits of information give a place some personality.

  4. And now you've taught me the term "dressing" - I love learning a word that describes something that otherwise takes a sentence to do so.

    Historians are born, not made. You're one of them.

  5. In the farming business I remember top dressing and side dressing..As I recall this is done when rain washes away the nitrogen..That is what my father's commercial business was all about..Adding Ammonium Nitrate to the field-corn- as i recall. Also the reason to rotate corn with puts nitrogen into the soil and the other uses it. Important to remember when renting good farming land..

  6. I like history that has a little personality in it, dry facts are just boring. Knowing the story behind happenings is what brings it to life.
    Those sandstone pavers are beautiful, I'm glad they've been saved along with the well.

  7. jenny_o is right - and thank you so much for passing the stories on, keeping them alive.
    Loved the sandstone blocks.

  8. You tell the story so well. I really think you should make a recording as I bet you have a wonderful voice.

  9. "persnickety" - that's a new one to me ... think I'll add it to my dictionary and confuse everyone by using it often ... :)

    Love the Sandstone slabs ... I hope that someone in the future will dig my rock house up and wonder about it's builder ...

    Thanks for the history and images ..

    1. Nice to hear from you, Graham. I hope you leave a written history in a niche, so no one need wander the universe to collect stories of you and the house.

  10. I think history and the traces of it, are so important, I like how you can uncover bits of it unexpectedly later. A reconstruction can never be the same to me. I'm glad you're concerned with the heritage of your area. In some ways history gives us a sense of who we are and how we fit into the world.

  11. I do rather like the idea of dressing a park. And I love the idea of digging to discover history - it makes a fascinating post.

  12. Great post. I love seeing the history of a place being uncovered as the "dressing" occurs. Love that new term.

  13. It's great that you've put the history and story of this place out into the Internet. Now anyone wanting to learn about it can read what you've shared.

  14. These stories are so important. And you're absolutely right. If they aren't written down, they will be lost forever. What a tragedy!