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August 20, 2013

Preserving Collett Park history

19th century map goes digital, revives original character

TERRE HAUTE — An urban park in the heart of Terre Haute’s north side, Collett Park has long been the centerpiece of a neighborhood with a strong sense of identity. Both the park and the neighborhood seem to embrace the past.

On Monday, about a dozen members of the Collett Park Neighborhood Association officially donated to the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department a framed reproduction of an architect’s plan for the park —  drawn in 1883, the year of the park’s founding.

Neil Marchese, president of the neighborhood association, presented the framed reproduction Monday inside the Collett Park pavilion to Eddie Bird, parks superintendent; Billy Hubbard, a parks department official; and Parks Board members.

The framed reproduction of the original drawing of the park will remain in the pavilion, a historic structure built a few years after the dedication of the park and recently renovated.

“We thought it would be great to have in the pavilion,” said Anna Lee Chalos-McAleese, secretary of the neighborhood association.

The original version of the plan, drawn by Benjamin Grove, landscape engineer of Louisville, Ky., hangs in the Parks Department offices at Fairbanks Park. That version was framed as a donation to the City of Terre Haute by The Golden Frame, a Terre Haute frame shop.

“The frame pretty much chose itself,” said Todd Stokes, owner and resident artist at the Golden Frame. He selected a frame with a historic look suitable to the period in which the document was drafted, he said. He said he wanted to make the donation in honor of his late parents, Gene and Sally Stokes, both of whom served on the Parks Board.

The copy of the drawing in the park pavilion also has a historic frame.

The original drawing now hanging in the parks department office was neglected for years within the Collett Park pavilion, Bird said. “I felt like that was way too valuable to be there. You can see where it has gotten wet. It’s weathered.”

The neighborhood association paid to frame the digital copy, which was made from the original by Mic Orman, owner of Mic’s Pics, a Wabash Avenue business. The reproduction is the same size as the original, 26 inches by 39 inches, Orman said.

“I think it turned out really well,” Orman said of the digital copy. His reproduction efforts involved repairing a tear or two, but otherwise left the historic nature of the document intact, he said.

“Age is not a bad thing,” Orman said.

The pavilion at Collett Park is available for rent through the Parks Department. Much to the gratification of the neighborhood association, it is used nearly every weekend, Marchese said.

Collett Park today includes a road, tennis courts and horseshoe pits — things not on the original plan. However, much has changed since 1883 and the park, gradually, has changed, too.

“The park is a key part of the neighborhood,” Chalos-McAleese said. “We’re looking forward to other projects in the park.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

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