â€œDo I have memories of Franklin Park? One day my mother, Mary Callahan, who worked at the golf pro shop, met my father, John Burke, where he worked at The Refectory, which our family owned. The result was me! I owe my existence to Franklin Park.â€
Last Monday Gerry Burke, owner of Doyleâ€™s CafÃ© in Jamaica Plain, welcomed fellow Franklin Park enthusiasts to a book signing party for â€œFranklin Park,â€ the latest paperback issued by Arcadia Publishing, the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.
While Arcadia already has three â€œImages of Americaâ€ titles devoted to Dorchester (two by historian Anthony Sammarco [1995 and 2005] and a postcard history by Dot Historical Society president, Earl Taylor ), this is the first work dedicated solely to the cityâ€™s biggest open space.
â€œFranklin Parkâ€ was compiled by Julie Arrison, who got her graduate degree from Northeastern Universityâ€™s public history program. She chose over 200 vintage photographs and documents to illustrate the parkâ€™s first century.
â€œThe earliest images,â€ she says, â€œare undated photographs from the construction of the park in the late 1880s, showing the blasting of rocks and quarries and the road construction. The latest picture is of a kite festival from the 1980s.
â€œBut my favorite picture is the one on the cover. Itâ€™s from the summer of 1913 showing spectators enjoying the Bear Dens, which are now called The Ruins.â€
(Arrisonâ€™s research into the Franklin Park Bear Dens has been published as a Historic American Buildings Survey.)
The bookâ€™s images come from the private collections of local residents, as well as the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site Archives and the Boston Public Library Print Department. In addition, material from the Franklin Park Coalition (FPC) documents the dramatic transitions through the decades in the neighborhoods around the park.
Arrison hopes her work will â€œprovide a reference for park users that is historically accurate, comprehensive and captivating and which will continue raising interest in the parkâ€™s history.â€
Mondayâ€™s book launch was just the beginning of Arrisonâ€™s efforts to promote the park and her book. Sheâ€™ll be giving a free noontime brown-bag lunch talk at the Massachusetts Historical Society on July 29. Keep checking franklinparkcoalition.org for date announcements for other events planned at the Franklin Park Golf Clubhouse, Jamaicaway Books and elsewhere.
Half of the profits of the book will be donated to the FPC, which assists with advocacy, park maintenance through a network of youth and volunteers, project management and programming. Available at area bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or arcadiapublishing.com. â€¨