PHOTO: Gregory Park's south entrance.


Here too I will list other park-like stuctures that were put up by the Parks Dept., or other civic organizations. These would include the Ski Jump at Boom Lake, and the Toboggan Slide on Front St.

MEMORIAL BENCHES, locations as of 4/14/2008:

Kiwanis Park

In Memory of Pat Rogers

In Loving Memory of Betty Lou Grant

In Memory of Elwood Wessman

In Memory of Leonard (Ole) Howard

Gregory Park

In Memory of Willard and Mary Faust-Dedicated 2007

In Memory of Robert MacArthur 1923-2005

Lum Park

In Memory of Dwaine Hollingsworth-From Family 2007


Brainerd's first park, and my old stomping grounds, since I was about 4, until high school! We lived just acroos the street to the NW. This will be a very long page. See more on this in MY BRAINERD. Stay tuned. :-)
-Arches, Stone:
-Band Stand: See section on Bands/Bandstands.
-Cedar "Swamp":
-Pergola: See photo above.
-Trees: All destroyed by wind June 2, 1898 [B75, 1946]. Somewhere I heard that those 6 tall Norway pines in the SW corner still standing were spared from the tornado, contrary to the above. Any clues?
-Wading Pool: ______________________________________________________________________________

Gregory Square

Gregory Square, a park-like beauty spot near the center of Brainerd, was once a huge stand of stately virgin Norway and Jack pine surrounded by a wooden fence.

-1871, when the plat of Brainerd was filed for record, a center square was left from subdivision and market "reserved." This area became Gregory Square. It was named from the middle name of John Gregory Smith, the first president of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Although the square was not designated as a park, someone must have felt that Brainerd should have one. It was a dense pine forest, four square blocks in size. To become a park, it would be necessary to develop the area, put in some sort of lighting, construct paths and maintain and patrol the area.

As Brainerd grew, the beauty of the area must have been recognized for houses were built surrounding it and pioneer citizens requested the city council to cut paths through the forest.

-1872: Charles N. Parker comes to Brainerd on a business visit.

-1882: C. F. Kindred erects a bandstand in the exact center, as well as a drinking fountain.

-1885, Feb.: Paths are cut through the forest of Norway and Jack pines.

-April: C.N. Parker moves to town, later to be called “Brainerd’s Grand Old Man”. See below*.

-May: Early citizens were showing park consciousness. The question of ownership arose. If the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Company, which was platting townships, selling lots and locating industries along the new railroad claimed ownership, it would be their job to take care of the area.

However, the company might decide to subdivide the square city lots. This possibility abhorred many early inhabitants.

The city council then went on record claiming the area was owned by the city. The city attorney investigated title and in June was instructed to bring suit, if necessary, in order to establish city ownership.

-1887: While the suit was still on, a fence was built to enclose the area. It was built by White & White, a 2-board fence capped with a flat-top board enclosing the entire park. It had swing gates at the corners.

-1891, May 18: LS & PS Co. proposes a compromise offering to deed half of the square to the city. Offer is refused by the Council.

-1892: A long legal battle with suit started in the United States Circuit Court. Through the efforts of the city attorney, W. S. McClenahan, on Jan. 25, 1892 the Circuit Court decreed ownership to the city of Brainerd. Citizens petition requesting the appointment of a Park Commissioner to supervise the cleaning and improvement of the park. They also wanted a bicycle path built around the exterior, but inside the fence and made of cinder.

-Jan. 25: City now calls the Square Gregory PARK.

-1894: Fence repaired.

-1898: Catastrophe struck Gregory Square on June 2, 1898, when a tornado or cyclone swept through the magnificent pine in the Square. This was followed by the necessary clearing and cleaning.

-1899, the council authorized $200 for plantings.

-1900: Another $100 was added. Box elders and poplars replaced the majestic pines and the old band stand was removed (to just east of the depot, then later to “Hobo Park”).

-1909, under the Home Rule Charter, the Park Board with S. R. Adair as chairman authorized improvements to Gregory Square. A concrete wading basin with fountain was built and encircled with a vine-covered pergola. Trees were trimmed and cinder paths were laid. For several years the wading basin was used as a goldfish pond.

-1911: C. N. Parker dies.

-1912: As a memorial to Charles N. Parker, one of the Brainerd pioneers, a new band stand was built in the park, the gift of the Parker family.

-1930: Cornelius O'Brien Sr., donated the money to erect a cut-stone gateway to be designed by landscape artists and to be placed on 6th Street.

1945: Some citizens propose the north half of the park to be converted in to building lots.


*Charles N. Parker: Biography to follow.

Compilation courtesy of the Brainerd Dispatch/ website, Jan Burton/Crow wing County Historical Society, Carl Zapffe/”Brainerd 75”-1946, Carl W. Faust. -2009


Aerial photo reveals that it could still use more trees!


Aerial photo:

I have located (see WALKABOUT) the site of this facility, but have no clue as to when it was built or dismantled. My guess is that it was in its heyday in the mid-40's. The apparent return path stairway is still clearly visible, although grown over, nevertheless salvageable. With a little work, it could be restored as a valid stairway as part of a nature walk up in the hills, perhaps to the highest point in the area where the ski jump footings start. I suppose there may be some problem with the steps not conforming to todays codes! It does however still have its concrete steps and most of the heavy steel pipe handrail intact. This stairway is at the southernmost end of the Kiwanis Park area, and comes up to a point just below the brick entrance pillars to the sewage treatment plant. It is the equivalent of about 3 flights.