Marshall Square Park in rejuvenated West Chester | Local News


WEST CHESTER — It’s not hard to see the historic tree ditches in Marshall Square Park. The many recent improvements to the park are also hard to miss.

Friends of Marshall Square Park have been busy beautifying the old five-acre arboretum and shady park at 200 E. Marshall Street.

A historic fountain has been restored to its former glory, a sick and dying 150-year-old red oak has been carved and sculpted by artist Marty Long, a new playground is to be installed and those glorious brick ditches are again draining the water. rainwater as expected.

On a sunny day last week, Friends of Marshall Square Park board member Anne Walters and President Jeff Beitel sat in the shade on Beitel’s front porch on E. Biddle Street overlooking the park.

Walters noted that the park was established in 1848 and is older than Central Park in New York City. She spoke of the restored 1892 fountain that serves as the gateway to the borough.

The fountain worked until the 1950s. It was rediscovered among weeds in the backyard of the property of Gene and Joan Gagliardi in Southdown, who returned it to Friends. Still almost entirely original, the fountain has been renovated and now operates 24/7 seasonally.

“The fountain has become a destination and landmark for everything from wedding photos to family reunions, or just great water appreciation,” Walters said.

Beitel spoke of the 1890s brick ditches which prevent erosion and are routinely confused with the 1877 trails. Friends Maintain and Weed, following Girl Scout Rose Scott’s work to uncover the ditches, as part of his Gold Star project.

It was a popular Victorian pastime to walk around the park and meet neighbors, Walters said. Forty benches allowed neighbors to sit and chat. From now on, about fifteen benches attract residents.

These benches are available for sponsorship through Friends.

The park is anything but flat and is home to the highest point in the borough. 18th century botanist Humphry Marshall planted many trees in the original arboretum.

Artist Long carved the 17-foot red oak which was saved in part because it was likely one of the park’s earliest plantings. Friends maintain the tree.

“We saved a historic part of the park and without having to take it apart we made something with it,” Walters said.

The park is listed on the Historic American Landscapes Survey at the Library of Congress and has a long history, including a nearby visit to review troops by General Marquis de Lafayette.

Walters and Beitel are excited about the new playground equipment they say will be installed this fall. Even the youngest will be able to use equipment that will replace the old swing that will include inclusive swings.

The equipment for the $ 65,000 public-private partnership project was partially paid for by the borough. Friends of Marshall Square Park will fund the installation of the equipment, followed by the landscaping and shade trees, which will adorn the area.

“It will be nice to sit on the porch and enjoy the sounds of youth, while taking in the new equipment,” Beitel said.

Live music will return to the park on Thursday August 12 at 6:30 p.m. with the Dirk Quinn Band. Food trucks will start serving at 6 p.m.

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