EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. This is the second of a series of articles dealing with the history of Findlay’s Riverside Park.
By R.L. HEMINGER
The bathing beach and the dance pavilion at Riverside Park were among the initial attractions at the municipal resort and proved exceedingly popular. They did not appear until the park’s second and third years, respectively.
The dance pavilion, standing in almost the center of the park, was constructed by Ferguson and Son for $2,257.90. It was 36 by 62 feet in dimensions, with two stories. The second story contained the dance hall. The pavilion was constructed in 1907 and the bathing beach was opened in 1908.
Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Davis had charge of the dance pavilion. Mrs. Davis was an accomplished instructor in dancing. The dance pavilion opened on the evening of June 27, with Professor Wineland’s orchestra providing the music.
The bathing beach utilized the old reservoir. E.B. and D.C. Davis received a 10-year franchise from the city late in 1907 for a bathing beach operation, due to open in the following year. It was necessary to lessen the depth of the water halfway across the reservoir and install a liner at the edge of the lower depth. Sand was shipped to Findlay from Lake Erie. The beach ran nearly 400 feet in length. The bank was excavated to make room for concrete bath house facilities. The roof was level with the park grounds. The bath house contained 59 rooms.
The early days of the park also saw other popular attractions on the grounds. A Ferris wheel was moved to Riverside from Reeves Park, located at Arcadia on the Toledo, Fostoria and Findlay streetcar line. There was a merry-go-round owned by the Blanchard Amusement Co., as well as a bowling alley, managed by Sylvester Karst, of McComb. The Blanchard company also owned the “House of Mirth,” a movie theater. J.H. Schell conducted a tintype and photographic gallery, while D. Bear had a box ball game and Harry Misamore conducted a Japanese roller game. Cook and Broughm had a cane and knife stand.
Two other attractions, the park auditorium and the “shoot-the-chutes,” will be viewed and discussed later on, as will the Green Mill Garden, together with the story of the flotilla of boats which operated on the river.
In 1912, the city granted authority to the Hancock County Agricultural Society to hold the county fair on the park grounds. A two-year grant was obtained.
A miniature railroad was one of the early park attractions. It first went into operation in June 1908. Shively and Chain held the concession, the former, a Denver man, having invented the novelty. He maintained such railroads in various parks around the country. There were over 1,000 feet of track. Later in park history, another firm took over the miniature railroad and improved it.
A dining hall was conducted by Charles Clements.
The log house which was constructed on Park Place during the county’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1912 was moved to Riverside Park and became a shelter house.
The Findlay Elks lodge gave to the city the beautiful arched entrance which was featured in its carnival on West Main Cross Street in 1903. It was placed at the Cherry Street entrance to the park.
Concrete sidewalks were built within the park and they contained names of the business firms and local citizens. The walks still exist, in part.
The Blanchard Amusement Co., which figured prominently in the park’s very early history, as the owner of some of the resort attractions, had these officers: Aura Behm, president, H.E. Beard, general manager, John Ritter, secretary and treasurer. The directors included the three officers and A.B. Curtis and Ed Davis.
The company owned the steamer Pastime, the shoot-the-chutes, the House of Mirth, and the merry-go-round.
Financial difficulties were experienced by the company in 1909. In an assignment in probate court, assets were listed at $3,771.50 and liabilities came to $8,941.15.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The miniature train referred to above is now operating next to the Little Red Schoolhouse on County Road 236.