By the 1880s Mansfield had become a notable and promising powerhouse in Ohio in terms of its industrial and political presence, yet the city was lagging in certain common societal and community essentials—one of these being the presence of thriving public parks.
So a project was undertaken to establish and preserve credible green space at the edge of town that could always serve for recreation and natural sanctuary.
Today we know the results of this dream as the recreational sequence of South Park, Middle Park and North Lake Park—but in 1887 when they were laid out, planted and dedicated, this entire continuum of public green land was called by one name: Sherman-Heineman Park.
Several vestiges of that 1880s world still remain in the parks today. The most overt memento—carved in stone—is also one of the most difficult to see in our time, but from a vantage point down a steep creek bed obscured by foliage the words can still be seen on the old sandstone bridgework at the Fourth Street entrance to North Lake where it’s sculpted very plainly: Sherman Heineman Park.
Sherman was Senator John Sherman who donated the land of South Park, and Heineman was the Mansfield businessman, Abram Heineman, who gave the land for North Lake.
The heritage of this North lake area has a confusing collection of alternate names that periodically wash up—such as Luna Park and Casino Park—and for the last few generations the green valley has gone by the name of its chief attraction: North Lake. But the first generations of Mansfielders who enjoyed these shady and lake-brightened grounds all knew the place as Heineman Park.
This photo essay offers a glmpse into the photo album of a time when the park was new.