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Published: 07/28/2006    print this story   email this story  

Groveland brings the elms back to Elm Park

By Harlyn Aizley

Named Constitution Park when first created in 1832 it wasn't until 1857 that the elm trees arrived and with it the park's new moniker, Elm Park. Elm Park was the first planned housing development in the area. House lots were laid out around the common, the owners of which given rights to the well at the south end of the common.

But by the 1940s Dutch elm disease had ravaged most of the 16 elm trees. In the early 1960s the last tree was taken down and the park's fountain dismantled. Despite the planting of flowering crab trees in place of the lost elms, the park fell into disuse.

Some 30 years later, thanks to the perseverance of Groveland residents and town officials the town received the first of several state grants to restore Elm Park. With assistance from the Department of Environmental Management, the Historic Commission and others, Groveland has succeeded in restoring to Elm Park its historic charm and grandeur. Today visitors can meander along new sidewalks lit at night by new versions of the park's original lampposts. A new fountain resembling the original, a gazebo much like the old Methodist meeting house that sat at the south end of the park, and a new clock adorn the grounds. A large interpretative sign and monuments to local veterans depict some of the park and town's history.

And, of course, there are elm trees. Planted in roughly the same pattern as the originals, the new trees already have found visitors basking in their shade. Any given day will find the once-unoccupied historic landmark brimming with children and adults alike, nearby houses being given fresh coats of paint, and other fruits of Groveland's revitalization.

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