As we prepare to break ground on Marcum Park this spring, an article from the Hamilton Evening Journal from February 1, 1916 reminds us that our city has long had the yearning for a garden spot on the river.
As the article notes, the plans for this park included a bandstand just a block or so away from where our RiversEdge Amphitheater now draws thousands of citizens for concerts and programs.
Plans for this proposed park were short-lived, however, as the site would be excavated for the widening of the river channel, and at a meeting two days later, Miami Conservancy Engineer Arthur Morgan put the kibosh on it.
Below the clipping of the map is the complete text of the article and a description of the imagined park.
J.E. Freudenberger, landscape architect of Dayton, has just completed an elaborate plan for a park system in Hamilton, which was submitted during the last week to the commission in the Butler County capital, named for the purpose of preparing a plan for the adornment of the Miami River Bank north of the new High and Main Street bridge and on the east bank of the river.
The plan calls for the beautification of the land as far north as Dayton street for two squares. The old Hamilton hydraulic will pass through the land proposed to be beautified, but this will be in part covered by a handsome bridge. A pergola is to be built at the north end of the park with a bandstand between it and the hydraulic bridges.
Attractive walks will lead from High Street and also from Monument Avenue into the park, and shrubbery, flowers and grasses will add to the decorative scheme. At the intersection of High Street and Monument Avenue, a wide attractive entrance will lead to the park, which is almost two acres in extent. It is designed to give the Hamilton public a spot for recreation. The tract was formerly used as a dump and has been an eyesore for many years.
According to Mr. Freudenberger, the park will be one of the most attractive small parks in the state.
Meldahl Hydroelectric Facility, Hamilton Utilities Capital Projects, East High Street Gateway, High-MLK Intersection, South Hamilton Crossing, Third Street Corridor Improvements, Main-Millville-Eaton Intersection, Millville-Wasserman-Smalley Intersection, Downtown Parking, The Hamilton Mill, Economic Development, Efficiency Smart, 17 Strong, Hamilton CORE Fund, Land Bank, Artspace, Marcum Park, Main Street, Great Miami River Recreational Trail, Spraygrounds, and the newly-formed Parks Conservancy.
Joe and Sarah Marcum have agreed to provide a charitable gift of $3.5 million to fund the creation of Marcum Park in downtown Hamilton. The park will be situated on over six acres adjacent to the Great Miami River on the site of the former Mercy Hospital, including the existing amphitheater and overlook.
Master Plan of Marcum Park
Three of Joe and Sarah Marcum’s five children were born at the former Mercy Hospital in downtown Hamilton. So when the Marcum’s were approached last year by John Guidugli, president/CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation, and City Manager Joshua Smith with a request to help fund the vast majority of the park expansion on the site, it immediately felt right.
“That ground has meaning for our family,” said Joe Marcum. “The hospital may not be there anymore but the memories sure are.”
The rest of the Marcum family agreed, and the result is the largest-ever privatedonation for a park in Hamilton. The creation of Marcum Park will expand the current RiversEdge Amphitheater to the east on the greenspace bound by N. Second, Dayton, and Buckeye Streets.
“This is downtown’s backyard,” said City Manager Joshua Smith. “With increasing momentum in Hamilton’s urban core, the Marcum family has given this community a huge push toward becoming a purposeful destination for working, living, and playing.”
Mr. Marcum agrees, “It’s a wonderful thing to have a central area where the city can come together and enjoy a nice park. It will add interest to the development of the downtown area. This will help Hamilton to be more dynamic.”
A year ago, the City of Hamilton worked with stakeholders surrounding the site to develop a conceptual master plan for the site. Those stakeholders included representatives from immediately surrounding neighborhoods, Hamilton Community Foundation, YMCA, Courtyard by Marriott, Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, St. Julie Billiart Parish, Hamilton Parks Commission, among others. The proposed master plan was publicly unveiled at an open house to allow city residents to provide input where approximately 75 attended.
Work is underway to finalize the design, and construction is expected to begin laterthis year for a planned opening in the summer of 2016. With the assistance of design firm MKSK, a committee including the Marcum family, Hamilton Community Foundation, Hamilton Parks Conservancy, and the City of Hamilton is meeting to finalize the details of the park plan, keeping in mind ways to make the park interesting and useful for all ages.
“It’s an open book right now,” he said. “I want it to be a park that is both utilitarian and a thing of beauty,” said Marcum, adding that attention is being given to landscaping details and that even the types of trees are being carefully chosen.
Marcum Park is an extension of the RiversEdge Amphitheater project, completed in 2013 and a venue for many concerts and events over the past two summers. The amphitheater portion of the park will now be known as RiversEdge Amphitheater at Marcum Park.
Marcum added that a special attribute of the park is its location.
“It’s accessible to everyone. Having the land in the center of downtown is a big plus,” he said.
According to Guidugli, the new park fits perfectly with Hamilton’s other recent revitalization projects as well as the Foundation’s strategic plan, specifically the goal of enhancing community quality of life.
“It is one more way to connect people to each other and to the beauty of our downtown,” said Guidugli. “The Marcum family is a strong, long-time supporter of the City of Hamilton and the Foundation.”
In addition to their private family foundation, they have established five charitable funds at the Hamilton Community Foundation. Joe Marcum is the most recent recipient of the David L. Belew award, given annually by the Hamilton Community Foundation to honor those who’ve made significant contributions of time, talent and resources to improve the quality of life in our community.
The Hamilton Community Foundation is a public charity committed to improving the quality of life for the greater Hamilton, Ohio community and its residents. Founded in 1951 with one $5,000 fund, the Foundation now manages more than 600 charitable funds. For more information, contact the Hamilton Community Foundation by calling (513) 863-1717 or visitwww.hamiltonfoundation.org.