Historic Columbus Foundation has installed the first of four historic panels on the north end of Lakebottom/Weracoba Park, telling the story of the city’s first large-scale park.
In addition to telling the story of the park, the panel includes several post card images of the park back when it included a lake.
“We decided to do some interpretive panels in the Lakebottom area because it’s such a popular spot, and there’s so much history in the neighborhoods and in Lakebottom itself,” said Historic Columbus Executive Director Elizabeth Barker. “The types of panels that we did, we wanted to be colorful and to have images that would make them more interesting than your traditional historic marker.”
Originally called Wildwood Park, it was first developed in 1890 by John Flournoy’s Columbus Railroad Co., the plaque reports. In addition to providing a destination for streetcars and recreational space for residents, it encouraged people to purchase real estate in the area, in which Flournoy was heavily invested.
A shallow lake provided swimming, fishing and boating, which provided a venue for “courting,” according to the plaque. Four islands in the lake featured benches and picnic shelters. The islands were linked by arched bridges which allowed boats to pass under.
The city bought the park in 1924, in part as a site for Columbus High School. But much of the land remained for recreation. In 1926, the lake was drained, giving the park one of its names. Signs erected by the city’s parks and recreation department mark the north end as Wildwood Park at Lakebottom and the south end as Weracoba Park at Lakebottom.
Today, the park includes fields for football, soccer, baseball and softball, a track, tennis and basketball courts, a playground and a popular walking trail around its perimeter.
The three additional plaques, which Barker said she hopes will be installed soon, will feature the Weracoba-St. Elmo Historic District, Columbus High and St. Elmo schools and the Peacock Woods-Dimon Circle Historic District.
The park project is the second of Historic Columbus’ annual small projects. The first, Barker said, was to refurbish 33 benches in small “pocket parks” in the Historic District.