History of Green Bay's Parks

Atkinson Park (formerly Tower Park)

This park was the site of a water well and pumping station owned by the city's Water Department. A pumphouse was present on the property with a small, round water tower attached. (The tower was sometimes referred to as a "silo"; its round shape resembled a silo.) The pumping station occupied only a small portion in the northwestern part of the property a. A playground was developed on the water department property during the Depression by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the National Youth Administration (NYA) b.

In 1964, the property was transferred to the Park Department. "On August 12, 1964, the Board of Park Commissioners officially accepted the Gray Street pumping station property known to us as Tower Park playground. … The Board of Park Commissioners have also agreed that the silo should be removed to a point level with the square building attached to the silo. When improved and decorated this will be a neat appearing building and useful to recreation program work." c. Tower Park was dedicated on April 20, 1965. d.

The old pumping station was renovated in 1967 for use as a shelter and the playground was improved. e, f. The playground equipment was updated again in 1981.g In 1990, parents of children attending Elmore School (just across Ethel Street from the park) successfully campaigned to improve the park again h; this work was completed in 1993 and included removing the renovated shelter building. i

In 1979, Donald Smith proposed renaming Tower Park in honor of Dewey Decker because the idea for the park "originated by Mr. Dewey E. Decker at the time that he was the council representative of the 14th. Ward". Smith enclosed a clipping from the Green Bay Press-Gazette which said, "Promotion of the playground is the result of several months' effort by Councilman Dewey Decker". j This suggestion was turned down on the basis of a city policy which required that schoolchildren be invited to submit suggestions in an organized contest and also that persons so honored should no longer be living. k

In 1999, the city council approved naming the park for Henry S. Atkinson. l Atkinson had lived in the family home on Velp Avenue just up Gray Street from the park. However, the first proposals to honor Atkinson were for other locations, including Fort Howard Park farther to the east. Atkinson was well known for his interest in youth and had served as President of the Green Bay School Board. m n


  1. Aerial photography from 1938; http://maps.gis.co.brown.wi.us/geoprime/, downloaded November 13, 2010.
  2. "Improvement of the water department's Gray street [sic] well pumping station into a new playground probably will be done under a joint WPA-NYA project, Marshall G. Simonds, park superintendent, said today." Newspaper clipping from Green Bay Press-Gazette, undated. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park". This clipping was attached to the Donald Smith letter of 1979. j
  3. Copy of letter from Vernon H. Krieser, Director of Parks and Recreation, to Harold L. Londo, General Manager of Green Bay Water Department, dated January 14, 1952; copy of letter from Londo to Krieser dated October 22, 1964, reporting formal agreement by the Green Bay Water Commission at its meeting of the previous date. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  4. Copy of letter from Vernon H. Krieser to Mayor Mayor Roman P. Denissen and members of the city council dated March 26, 1965, requesting a formal dedication of the park. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  5. Plans dated July 25, 1966, have handwritten notation "not built this way See later plan dated Feb 1967". PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park". (The later plans were not found in the file.)
  6. Copy of letter from Vernon Krieser to Board of Public Works, F.J. Euclide, Director, dated April 17, 1967, for improvements to Tower Park shelterhouse with handwritten note that the request was approved by the city council on April 18. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park". (See also a meeting report indicating heat and plumbing work at Tower Park. PRF file "Fisk Park 1959-1980".)
  7. Playground plans and equipment specification dated June 2, 1981. PRF file "Atkinson Play 92". These plans continue to show the tower/pumphouse building.
  8. Copy of letter from Carol and Tom Long to Green Bay Park and Recreation Department requesting replacement of old playground equipment, dated September 25, 1990; copy of letter from Chet Miller responding to the Longs and referring to efforts by the Elmore School Family Organization, dated October 3, 1990. PRF file "Atkinson Play 92".
  9. Playground plans ("Playground replaced 1993") dated February, 1993, and equipment specification dated July, 1992. PRF file "Atkinson Play 92".
  10. Letter from Donald L. Smith to Board of Park Commissioners, dated September 18, 1979, with an undated clipping from the Green Bay Press-Gazette. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  11. Copy of letter from Chet Miller, Director, Park and Recreation Department, replying to Smith detailing the reasons why the Park Board rejected his suggestion, dated October 12, 1979. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  12. Resolution submitted to city council to rename Tower Park, dated August 3, 1999. PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  13. Letter from Dr. Thomas Joynt, Superintendent of Schools, to Mayor Paul Jadin, supporting the naming of "Jefferson campus" for Atkinson and listing Atkinson's contributions to the community during his tenure on the school board, dated May 19, 1999; PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park".
  14. An interesting sidelight to renaming the park is that Henry S. Atkinson and Evelyn Atkinson deeded 3 lots across Mather Street from Tower Park to the City of Green Bay. Copy of deed dated January 14, 1952; PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park". The deed covers lots 16, 17, and 18 of Block 1 in the Colonial Village Plat of January 6, 1932. These lots "fronting Easterly on Gray Street" were planned as part of a neighborhood commercial district at the intersection of Gray and Mather; the lots "may be restricted to commerical use for retail merchandising" according to the abstract. Copy of the abstractor's summary of plat; PRF file "Henry S Atkinson Park". Such commercial development did occur on the east side of Gray Street, both north and south of Mather, but not on these lots on the west side of Gray. This area was vacant for many years, eventually being developed as housing by Habitat for Humanity.
  15. Only annotated statements have been verified. Any other historical statements are unverified and based on personal knowledge or informal notes kept by the Green Bay Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department.
Last update: February, 2011
Email: webmaster