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Foster Park Pavilion #3 Restored

The city’s Parks Department and local parks support groups are pushing to renovate and repair one of the oldest structures in one of our community’s oldest parks.

Pavilion # 3 at Foster Park is set to see several improvements and upgrades over the summer as government officials and park supporters continue to raise money to improve the aging building.

“We bid the project out late last year,” said Steve McDaniel, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department director, “Construction started about a month ago, and we’re hoping to have it done by the end of the summer.”

The building actually dates all the way back to the 1930s, and was constructed with funding from the federal Works Progress Administration, McDaniel said.

There are three pavilions scattered throughout the park, and they see a multitude of uses, McDaniel noted. He said the buildings end up hosting everything from sports groups taking a break while playing at the park’s nearby soccer fields, to birthday parties, to corporate events and even family reunions.

Users must log onto the Parks Department website, www.fortwayeparks.org to reserve the areas. Costs for the reservations vary.

Improvements planned for Pavilion # 3 include replacing the roof, repairing and replacing some of the worn building timbers, reworking the deteriorated masonry, removing some of the graffiti spray-painted on the edifice, and clearing and improving the path that leads to the pavilion.

The improvement project has become somewhat of a joint effort among the Parks Department, a local group known as Friends of the Parks, and another community faction calling themselves the Southwest Area Partnership.

Julie Donnell, past president of Friends of the Parks, noted that her group has spent the past several months raising money for the improvements, collecting donations from businesses and individuals hoping to help pay for the work.

She said the fundraising is an on-going effort. Her group hopes to cover 50 percent of the project cost, leaving the other half of the tab for the Parks Department to pay. She noted they hope to gather an additional $25,000 for the project in the coming days and months.

She added that maintaining and upgrading the pavilion is crucial to keeping the city’s parks as an important spot of respite for citizens who increasingly need it in times of overwork and quarantining due to the ongoing pandemic.

“People crave a place that’s outdoors, and green, and beautiful,” Donnell said, “And they are yearning for that outdoor element from being cooped up inside all the time.”

Current President of the Friends of the Parks group, Edward Welling, noted that maintaining the pavilion isn’t just important for the park users to hold events, but to the historic significance of the park.

“This is an important – although small – part of the historic character and architecture of this park,” said Welling, a local architect whose firm is Grinsfelder Architects.

Foster Park was founded in 1912 and comprises 255 acres along the St. Mary’s River. Its location at 3900 Old Mill Road includes an 18-hole golf course, several tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and a variety of floral gardens, a bridal area, and a paved pathway for bikers, walkers and joggers that run the breadth of its acreage.

Land for the park came from Col. Samuel and David L. Foster, who donated the first 67 acres to the city in 1912. Since then, 151 additional acres have been added to the original land.

The park also includes a dog park and several soccer fields located in the area known as Foster Park West which lies near the intersection of Bluffton Road and Winchester Road in Waynedale.

McDaniel noted that making sure that the pavilion stays eye-pleasing and useable isn’t just important for the park, but for Fort Wayne as a whole.

“Amenities like these make the park so much better and more robust for our users,” McDaniel said, “And having facilities like this betters our community and just makes Fort Wayne such a better place to live.”

Michael Morrissey

Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer