United States

Kennedy Park - ME

The Franklin Water Power Company established the first textile mills in Lewiston in 1854, and in the 1860s set aside land for employee recreation. The park they built, initally called City Park, was deeded to the city in 1868. Situated on a roughly 9-acre rectangular site, the park featured four symmetrical, axial paths which cross from corner to corner and side to side. The paths were lined with benches and rows of elms, with wooden fences around the park’s perimeter. The park also included one of Maine’s earliest Civil War monuments, an ornate bandstand, and a tiered fountain. The bandstand and its 1925 replacement have been the center of political rallies, musical events, and festivals since the park’s beginning. In 1963 the park was renamed for John F. Kennedy, who spoke there before his presidential election.

Beginning in the 1950s the city redesigned the south quadrant of the park, added parking and recreational facilities that now include a playground, tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, and a skateboard park. Elm trees were lost to disease in the 1960s; today a variety of other deciduous trees, as well as modern benches, line the paths. While the bandstand remains, the fountain and fences are no longer present. The park and several surrounding buildings are listed in the city’s Kennedy Park Historic District.

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