Dedication of Kindleberger Park
June 17, 1933. Parchment, Michigan.
June 17, 1933 was an important day in Parchment, Michigan as over 6,000 eager onlookers gathered for the dedication of Kindleberger Park.
The Park’s story began in 1930 when Jacob Kindleberger, founder and CEO of the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company (KVP), and his wife donated 38 acres of farm land along Riverview Drive to the newly organized village of Parchment. Acceptance of that gift and the subsequent naming of the park in honor of the Kindlebergers were among the first acts of the Village Commission.
Mr. Kindleberger understood a park, nestled within Parchment’s growing residential neighborhoods, as a long-term investment in community well-being, and he willingly devoted Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment resources to its development. The Company hired community members, unemployed due to the Depression, to grade the rough hills, to establish playing fields, to build roads and pathways, and to plant thousands of trees. When big tasks loomed, The Parchment News called for volunteers, and soon the whole community was involved. In one instance, over two hundred community members helped to dig a drainage ditch for the Park. When it was time to assemble bleachers at the ball diamond, fifty willing workers showed up and completed the job so quickly, other volunteers were turned away. Local organizations helped too. Parchment garden clubs worked in the new formal garden, the Boy Scouts built a rockery near the west entrance to the Park, and the Methodist Men’s Brotherhood worked on tennis and horseshoe courts.
The Park, as the Kalamazoo Gazette pointed out, “had fired the imagination of [community] residents.”
Mr. Kindleberger also asked for support from KVP’s suppliers and customers, and many responded. The Weyerhauser Timber Company of Longview, Washington, sent a seventy-foot wooden flagpole as a Park centerpiece, and the Puget Sound Pulp and Lumber company shipped thirty-six “rustic” park benches buried in a load of wood pulp bound for the KVP mill. Other Park supporters took out congratulatory advertisements in a special edition of The Parchment News published in August, 1932.
When the community gathered to dedicate Kindleberger Park on that June afternoon in 1933, they were justifiably proud of its new ball diamonds, tennis, shuffleboard and horseshoe courts, winding pathways and beautiful vistas, more than a thousand newly planted trees, and a formal garden with hundreds of colorful perennials and flowering shrubs. The Parchment News spoke for many when it declared, the Park “will not only prove of inestimable value to the present generation, but of immeasurable worth to the future citizenry of the community.”
This film from the 1933 Park dedication will give you a glimpse of the afternoon’s festivities, and if you watch carefully, you will be able to identify familiar spots in what was then a brand new Kindleberger Park.
Cheryl Lyon-Jenness, 2018