|Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jon and Liz Porter|
Fifteen acres fronting the future Wadsworth Homestead were designated as a Commons. This was part of the land purchased by James and William Wadsworth from Jeremiah Wadsworth.
General Winfried Scott encamped on the land on his way to buffalo during the War of 1812; Army artifacts were discovered in the 1990’s.
1830’s – 1840’s
Park area was threatened as a commercial site. There was a road from the Geneseo – Mt. Morris road extending to the Park’s western boundary.
Elizabeth Wadsworth’s father had died. In the Spring of 1845, Elizabeth went before the village Board (Commission of Highways) promising maintenance of the Park including planting and care of rare and choice trees, grading of the ground, gravel footpaths and enclosing with a fence. Original opposition included board members opposed to a woman suggesting such action.
Also, she wished for roadway improvements. Envisioned was the open commons as an environmental friendly New England Park. There would be a fence with a key to the gate. Those wishing to “promenade” needed permission from the Village and must lock the gate when leaving. She envisioned a permanent park open for sports, traveling circuses, drills and parades.
Not one tree remained in 1845. Elizabeth pledged she would make all improvements as a wealthy unmarried woman.
The fence needed repair, cattle and swine grazed in the Park. There were weeds and common use as a washing-drying area.
Following a private trend, the fence was removed and sold. Businesses surrounded the Park such as a general store and an inn.
The County Historical society envisioned a log cabin in the Park to display pioneer artifacts.
The Village improvement Society built two walks diagonally across the Park.
The county Log Cabin Society received approval from the Village to construct a cabin, logs from historic County farms.
The log Cabin was completed and dedicated.
Major William Austin Wadsworth hired a Park landscape architect in exchange for Main Street macadam being extended to South Street. A stone wall, three feet high, was constructed along the east boundary.
Behind the Log Cabin, to the west boundary, would be a tennis court, bowling green and a croquet lawn. Old trees were removed and replaced by new ones. New diagonal walks were laid.
About 35 feet of the Park was removed as space for the War Memorial.
William Perkins Wadsworth hired a mason to repair the wall.
1976 (July 25)
A plaque was laid, dedicated as a memorial to Elizabeth Wadsworth who “saved the Park”.
The Park became home to the Geneseo Summer Festival. Those needing a restroom were directed across the street to the Brody building on the SUNY Geneseo Campus.
2018 (May 17)
The dedication of the Log Cabin restrooms. (Ribbon Cutting with a Twist).
Compiled by David W. Parish, Geneseo Town and Village Historian