Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eastland Park

The land for Eastland Park was part of the farm leased in 1790 by Martinus Sharpe, an early settler of Defreestville. The land was later owned by one of the DeFreest families, who sold it to Patrick Dunn in 1897.

In 1927, the Dunn farm was sold to Charles Wenz, Henry Meurs, Thomas Sherwood, Jr. and Dolfie Shufelt. Together with lawyer Ernest L. Boothby, these men formed the Eastland Park Association. This ad appeared in the Albany Evening Journal, Sept. 14, 1927 (click to zoom in).

Dolfi Shufelt, the president of the Association, had been a partner in Leahey & Shufelt, the masons and contractors on high-profile projects like the county bank building and the city reservoir. Leahey & Shufelt also developed the Lincoln Terrace neighborhood.

Charles Wenz worked as a roofer. Henry Meurs had served as Mayor of Rensselaer (1920-21) and as a NYS Assemblyman, and he owned Henry Meurs and & Sons Hardware.

Their plan included a man-made lake and a market plaza:
...on healthy, high ground where nature has combined with development progress to make this section attractive and desirable for discriminating home site seekers… A feature of the development is the beautiful grove which is planned for a park and will be deeded to the city... Here will be found scenic beauty unequaled.
Though the Eastland Park Association never built the lake, they kept the name Lakeview Avenue. Market Street was renamed Woodland Avenue.

Today the park offers a playground, baseball diamond, and basketball and tennis courts, and hosts summer picnics. The Rensselaer City History Research Center has records of the Eastland Park Association, for those wanting to do further research.

This is part of the series: North End Park Neighborhoods (download this as a free PDF here)

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