Preservation Park is about to get a re-make.
But where in the world is Preservation Park?
Few know, but those in the Charlestown Preservation Society (CPS) are well aware of it as they have maintained it for years.
Preservation Park is a creation of Urban Renewal and is the triangular piece of land in Thompson Square between Austin and Green Streets that is known primarily for hosting the Town Christmas Tree and the Christmas inflatable village.
For years, many have mistaken the small park as a City-maintained parcel, but rather it is owned by the City and maintained by the CPS for decades. Now, CPS is proposing to give it a facelift once again and make it a more user-friendly gathering spot right in the center of Town.
“What used to be there were some of the oldest homes in Charlestown, from the 1780s and 1790s and as old as the Warren Tavern,” said Amanda Zettel of CPS. “What happened is in Urban Renewal they cleared the way for the library and other amenities and took down those houses. As a compromise, I guess, CPS got custodial care of Preservation Park. CPS has been paying for all the maintenance and landscaping for a long time, and last year some wanted to get the City involved in it. We did a minor upgrade and the City came in and poured concrete pads. Any day we’re supposed to get solar-powered benches to place in the Park. The benches will have a way to charge phones and other things and will create a small place to gather and activate.”
Right now, open space is at a premium with everyone trying to find a quiet place outside to take a phone call or just grab a few deep breaths of fresh air. Zettel said they hope they can create a nice, landscaped area that will provide that space in Thompson Square.
“With COVID-19, we need open space more than ever before,” she said. “We want to use that space better. Some people walk their dogs there and it’s hosted the Christmas tree and the inflatables, but we want it to be more than a pass through and when appropriate activate it for a place to people to gather.”
The idea would be to refresh it with new plantings, more greenery to shield visitors from the cars, but also keeping it open and visible. CPS has been soliciting ideas for the area already, and have heard that some would like a community chess board/games area, or small dining tables. They hope to gather other ideas before moving forward.
Already, they have been approved to install a community message board on the sidewalk area facing Main Street. That board will serve to inform people of the CPS mobile walking tour app that can be used to learn about the historic sites in Charlestown, and will be a place where things of interest can be posted as well.
Preservation Park was originally homes owned by Sara Gage and Edward Martin according to a 1922 historic map. Those houses and the rest of the block were demolished and replaced by new streets and Preservation Park/Thompson Square Park.
CPS board members lobbied the City to make asphalt curbing installed more attractive and the city responded with minimal planting and no irrigation. Mayor Ray Flynn at the time asked Rosemary Kverek who would take care of these new plantings – and Kverek said CPS would do so, Zettel said was her understanding.
Eventually the plantings died, so CPS’s President at the time, Bette Task, along with CPS board members, took the initiative to replant the borders and apply for grants, successfully obtaining one from the Browne Fund that paid for most of what is seen there today.
The Whalen Family of Monument Avenue sponsored the benches in front of the bank and the urn was commissioned from a Charlestown Artist.