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Old Chester, PA: Parks

Chester Park

Park History | Recollections

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Entrance to Chester Park c. 1915

"The entrance arches on Edgmont avenue were designed by Theophilus Chaudler, nationally prominent architect."
-1949 Chester Times Year Book

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Chester Park, c. 1906

View in Chester Park - Post card scan courtesy of "Joker" Jack Chambers

Before & After - As of September 2005, the waterfalls have been dismantled.
Photos courtesy of Ray & Kathy Diggins & Ralph Hall

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Farmhouse in Chester Park
Photo courtesy of Jane Calhoun Unger, enchantments@hootowlhollow.com

Rock along side of stone arch bridge in Chester Park; Picture courtesy of Gene "Zac" Zacniewski

Rock along side of stone arch bridge in Chester Park
Photo courtesy of Gene "Zac" Zacniewski

"My buddies and I used to jump and dive off it swimming. Just wondering how many others in Chester did the same thing?" - Zac

Park History: In 1900 there was a zoo in Chester Park

A band shell was planned to be built adjacent to the barn and near Elkington Avenue in July 1950. (Click here for a picture of the band shell, courtesy of the architect, Mr. Jack Swerman, AIA)

July 1952 - The Four Aces (Al Alberts, Sod Vaccaro, Lou Silvestri & Dave Mahoney) entertained a crowd of more than 20,000.

"Chester Park was given to the city by Councilman Edward Dickerson, for the city of Chester. The council wanted to call the park Dickerson Park but Mr. Dickerson insisted that the park be named Chester. He owned the land, he used to take the poor children on weekends and give them rides on a boat that he had up and down the river. It gave him great pleasure to donate this to the city for the children and their parents."
- Edward J. Dickerson

From the Chester Times Year book 1949:

"Chester Park with its main entrance in the 2500 block on Edgmont avenue, covers 46.59 acres along Ridley Creek, at the northern boundary of the city. First proposed by Councilman Edward Dickerson, it was dedicated by Miss Leah Howard, daughter of George W. Howard, following contributions of money and land. Thomas Elkington, Dr. Anna Sharpless, Col. A. S. Dyer, J. Frank Black and George B. Lindsay were large contributors.

The bridge over Ridley Creek was originally called “Ladies Bridge,” because it was built with funds raised by the ladies of Chester. The entrance arches on Edgmont avenue were designed by Theophilus Chaudler, nationally prominent architect.

Recollections: "As a little kid (back in the early 50's), one of the earliest images I have is of the Stone Arches at the entrance to Chester Park.  We lived right across the street from them up until I was five.

All-day strolls through the park were shared with me & my dad. Of course, hanging out by the falls was very cool.  You could pick up the falling water noise from back by the bridge, and the excitement rose as the noise grew louder upon approach ... all the while glancing at the water to see the many carp weaving toward the surface.

Fortunately, when we moved from Edgmont Ave, we didn't move too far away. Our next house was on West Chelton Rd. (my back yard was the OLC football field .. where I attended school).  So the park was very much a part of my life all the way up to age 18 when I joined the Navy.  As a little older kid and fascinated by things "water", I can vividly recall the excitement of catching tadpoles and minnows at the "best" spot ... the intersection of where the little creek (or is that "crick") coming down from Parkside School met the the "main" stream.  I packed a large jar, some food and a big section of  door screen with strings attached at all four corners.  Several minutes after dipping that contraption into the water, there were many flip-flopping critters in the net as I pulled it out.  I didn't keep many minnows, but the tadpoles went home with me and I raised them to frogs ... then released them back to nature behind Parkside School.

Meanwhile ...

Those Sham Battles were the greatest!  Lotsa excitement and noise for a little kid to be in the middle of.  Me and by buddies would go home with bags full of the rifle shells.  Then we'd pack them with match-heads and shoot them off into the Chester Park sky.  Those babies would really climb!

As a young teenager (and dedicated Boy Scout ... Parkside Troop 494), I would help out at the park's arts and crafts area.  Pot holders were the ultimate creations, as little kids would make dozens of them to take home to mom.  When their fingers would get tired of all of that weaving, I'd pile them onto the roundy-roundy ride and spin them fast til they almost barfed! What fun!!

All of that stuff is still floating around in my brain, and lots more ... the spring water drinks, the down-hill sledding, getting by the barbed wire fence on the "other side" to get to the falls and that round pond (another tadpole heaven), testing the ice before sliding across, the Easter Egg hunts, swimming below the bridge, the fireworks, zooming down the hilly roads on bikes (and usually pushing them back up), the Pulaski Day Parades, the Bands, all-day adventures on the "island" below the falls ... even just running up and down the grassy hills.  It was all great and I'm pretty lucky to have had all of that just a short walk away."

- Tom Bacon, Wilmington, DE
Veteran of Phil & Jim's ... 1965 to 1969
Sun Valley Grad ... 1969

"I don't have pictures, but as a young boy (in the forties) I remember going to Chester Park for spring water. We lived at 11th & Highland Ave. and drove up to the park. I remember the water was so bad coming through the faucets at our house that it all had to boiled before using it, so we went to Chester Park for water. We would take many gallon jugs with us and wait in line to fill them up.  I remember the line going all the way back across the bridge and part way up the hill.  If the line was too long, we would go over to Sproul Rd. on the hill by the Sunoco gas station and get our water. A spring was on the side of the hill just above the gas station.  Does any one remember those times?"


"Chester Park Days... Remember Hughie Coakley running the recreation baseball program and playing ball with all my old buddies; Richie Merchant, Joey McElvarr, Jerry Hall, Phil DiPietro, Johnny Crego, Rick and Skip Gamble; just to name a few. We lived to play baseball and Uncle Hughie--as we called him-- was a beautiful man, who was probably close to eighty back in the mid to late 50's. Really miss those days and that ole' timer. He was like a character out of a great novel."

- Tony Iacone, StJoesAston@aol.com 
from 24th & Madison 

"I grew up on East Avon Rd. near Chester Park.  We had the absolute best summers!  We listened to the band concerts, featuring the Chester City Band.  We could also play tennis, or basketball, and especially loved the summer rec programs where we could play box hockey, make plaster of paris molds to paint, and made gimp lanyards.  Sham battles were so exciting, and there was always Hall's on the corner of East Avon Rd and Edgemont Ave, for ice cream cones.  During winter we had our choice of sledding hills, and would ice skate on Chester Creek.

- Kathy, jgm502@comcast.net

"Sledding was great in Chester Park, so was the swimming, but if you did both on the same day, as I did some of the joy is taken out of that day. I didn't make the turn at the bottom of the hill once and my sister and I went in below the falls. Yes it was cold!"

- John J. Flanagan, jjfcpo@earthlink.net

"I too remember Chester Park sledding there in the winter and swimming in the summer however it is not Chester Creek that runs through Chester Park it is Ridley Creek."

- John R. Spedden, Jrstrolley@aol.com

"I used to live on E. Mowry St., which is right next to the Chester Park playground. I lived for the summer recreation programs, which they held at the park from June to August from 9 till 3. We made potholders, plaster-paris, gimp. (Some of our Rec teachers were Ms. LaSpada & Ms. Holt). We played box hockey (Where did this go to?) I was champ one year. I remember the concerts at the bandstand on Tuesday nights, the Zangara's water ice truck (for a dime you could get a water ice & pretzel). I remember the fireworks and the time the wheel came flying off and almost hit my brother, Chris. We played tag in the rose garden. I took tennis lessons on the tennis courts. We would hang out in the barn with the workers. I remember the Crystals that lived in the house by the barn. I remember when the bug spray man would come around and we would run behind the truck. I remember when the City of Chester dumped all the snow from a big blizzard in the 60's and we had igloos in our backyard until spring. I remember when Patrick May needed stitches in his face from a sled cutting his face while sledding next to the bandstand. Remember the towers on Chestnut Pkwy that stood for decades unfinished? I had the best childhood. Chester Park was the greatest back then; I hung there even in high school. I remember the Flyers winning in 73 & 74 and being in the street hollering we're #1. The good old days.

- Gloria Ragni Dugan Kriegh, gkriegh@cabrini.edu

"I remember Chester Park when I was a kid having the biggest hills a Flexible Flyer could ever handle and the never ending energy going up and down them. I tried the same hills when my daughter was 2 which was 15 years ago, it's a lot different pulling someone up and down, we made 4 trips from top to bottom and then it was back to the car for me. LOL.  I too, remember the best 4th of July times at the park with the free concerts, picnics, fireworks and what about the Helicopter rides that was really cool."

- Tom Bulger, tbulger@avaya.com

"I have such wonderful memories of Chester Park that I will never forget.

"The 4th of July Fireworks, they were the best that any town had in Delaware County.

"I lived on W. Parkway Ave. and we would always cross Edgmont Ave. and take a walk in the Park.

"The beautiful Rose Garden with such an array of roses that made Longwood Gardens jealous! The "wishing well" near the farmhouse where you would always throw a penny in it and make a wish. Or going down to "Chester Creek" where you could fill up on spring water. There in the summer people in the 1960s would go swimming or in the winter skating on the frozern creek. And don't forget the waterfalls!

"Thanks for a great life in Chester!"

- Karen Zimmer Cardwell, thecardwells1@home.com
Brookhaven, PA

"I am the grandson of the last married couple that lived in and worked on the Farm house in Chester Park. I spent allot of time in the house and spent many Thanksgivings & Christmas days there. I had allot of old pictures of the house and would like to share them with you. If you would Like to know I had the biggest and best time there when I meet Ike Eisenhower & Richard Nixon at the Rep. BarB Q they had for them in the Park when they were running for office. My Grandfather, John M. Crystle Sr., was the caretaker of the grounds of the park and I used to ride the trackers to help (HAHA) him cut the grass and trim the bushes at the entrance. I played on the tennis courts all summer and started the tennis lessons there. Mr. Smedley was in charge of the parks and recreation of Chester while my Grandfather was living there. I could go on and on about the years they lived there...   Riding my bike from 13th and Crosby out to the Park passing the OLD houses and the cemetery's and the Churches to get to the Park."

- James Crystle, Sr., crystle1@worldnet.att.net

Rick Sapovits, RickSap@aol.com, recalls, "I grew up in Garden City on Ridley Drive.  I lived directly across from the park.  I remember the fire works, PMC used to have war games down there.  I played on the rocks that can be seen from the bridge as you drive towards Garden City.  My Grandmother lived on Sunny Side Ave. and I could walk to her house and she would meet me so I could cross the street... We could sit in my front yard and hear the music from the band shell.  I saw Sally Starr make a personnal appearance on the Chester side of the park, near the band shell also.  Thanks, this brings back great memories !!!"




If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about Chester Park, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 08/24/10