There is nothing that tells the history of a place better than old landmarks that have stood through time as witness to other eras. We are fortunate to have two of these old stalwarts in North Lake Park, bringing an older age of Mansfield up so close you can lay your hand on it.
These two landmarks bridge time; they span generations of Mansfielders, to make the world of our grandparents and great-grandparents always present.
And they are, in fact and form, bridges.
Mansfield had only one small park before 1887—it was the Square downtown: Central Park. So it was quite a civic asset, adding terrific value to the city, when the new Park Commission arranged to procure South Park from Senator John Sherman, and North Park from Abraham Heineman; and combine them into a whole mile and a half of scenic green space on the west end of town, called Sherman-Heineman Park.
This gift was such a momentous game-changer for the city, that they renamed the street going out to the new recreational area as ‘Park’ Avenue.
The acreage of Middle Park was acquired by the city to connect the South & North Parks, and for the first generation of its growth, the entire swath of groves, streambeds and shade—from Maple Street on the south, to the B&O Railroad tracks on the north—was viewed by Mansfielders as simply one continuous public garden.
Walking paths and carriage drives were laid to connect the parks, and within ten years, the bridges of these thoroughfares were carefully conceived and constructed in a way that served functionally for traffic, and aesthetically perfect in the scenery.
Fourth Street Park Bridge
North Lake Park Arched Bridge
Images in this article come from the collections of Gabe Mastin, Mark Hertzler, The Sherman Room of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, and Phil Stoodt.