History of Green Bay's Parks

Meyer Park

Late in 1951, the city council voted to accept a deed from the heirs of George J. Meyer … to be used for park purposes. 1 Known as the old soap factory site, the area is covered with large cottonwoods, and is one of the most picturesque spots within city limits, said a newspaper article. The article continued, Long regarding it as a necessary link in the proposed East River parkway, the city has been negotiating for the property since last June, the mayor said. Accodring to the article, The deed specified that the land shall be used for park purposes, and that a bronze plaque to the memory of George J. Meyer be erected on a boulder monument. 2 3

Much of the next year went by before the details of the bronze tablet were agreed to with the family 4 but by September, 1952, the order was in the works 5 and a dedication ceremony took place on June 24, 1953. 6

Even before the dedication of the monument in 1953, the Green Bay Woman's Club initiated a plan to plan five or six trees this year, intending this tradition to be carried out in the future by adding one or more trees each year as financially possible. 7 A decade later, one of the original committee members was concerned that the tree planting was not being continued, but the park department responded that plantings were done in many years, including 1959, 1960, and 1961. 8

Despite community support, the park faced problems in the early years. In 1967, one of the heirs wrote, On a recent visit while attending one of the Packer games, I took a few friends to visit the … park. We were amazed that this beautiful piece of property was in such deplorable condition, mentioning specifically that the placque was smeared with paint, as well as broken bottles and beer cans and weeds on the river bank. 9 The park department wrote back to say, We set about immediately to improve the conditions. The department also wrote that curb and gutter work being done last fall created quite a mess along the west side of the park … It should be further pointed out that our neighboring village to the south was dumping their refuse on lowland near the river, although this dump is now closed. 10

The close proximity to the much larger Joannes Park seems to have caused some confusion about which demographic should be served in Meyer Park. A playground plan was developed in the middle 1990s including teetertotters, a sandbox, and swings for both small and large people. 11 This playground was apparently installed, but then later removed. 12 Neighborhood parents wrote a few years later, We have a large number of children on our block and do not feel comfortable letter them play at Joannes Park. That is such a busy place for them. These parents suggested that it might be possible to have a park-tender at Meyer Park. 13 While promising to discuss the idea with the city's park committee, the parks department cautioned that we do not have the funding to provide this program at every park location. 14 A new playground was developed and equipment purchased in 2000. 15 The new tot playground in Meyer park was to serve only the little kids in the neighborhood and the new (replacement) structures currently being installed at nearby Joannes Park, would serve as the playground area for the kids from 6 to 12+ years of age. 16

A Scout Council Ring was put in at the southeast corner near the water with bricks from the Tower Park fence. 99


1 Certified copy of resolution by Mayor and Council, November 20, 1951. The property consisted of Lots 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, Block 149, Plat of Astor. (Carbon copy certified by Clifford Centen, City Clerk, on November 27, 1951.) A hand-written note indicates the gift comprised 4.509 acres worth $16000–. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
1a Lots 1 and 10 were omitted from the original gift; they are located in the middle of the East River. Undated copy, plat of block 149. PRF file, East River Meyer Pk..
2 Undated newspaper clipping: [Park?] Land Donated to City by Heirs of Late George Meyer. (Mayor Dominic Olejniczak's name appears at another point in the article.) PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
3 The first soap factory was established on the East River in 1874 by Ingersoll and Case, according to Bella Fench, editor, The American Sketchbook, Volume III, History of Brown County, Wisconsin; published 1876; page 246. Downloaded from Google Books on April 26, 2011.
Green Bay Soap Company was founded in 1881, later becoming Anamax, and in 2005 merging with Sanimal to create Sanimax, according to the corporate history web page. Downloaded from Sanimax on April 26, 2011.
4 Copy of letter, M.G. Simonds, Superintendent of Parks, to Edw. A. Meyer, dated August 15, 1952: Please let us hear from you as to the wording on bronze tablet, otherwise we will have to use our own judgement as to wording so we can get this made up. Letter, Harold W. Meyer to Simonds, dated September 15, 1952, on letterhead of George J. Meyer Manufacturing Co., Cudahy, Wisconsin, USA: All the heirs have oked the wording. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
5 Copy of letter, M.G. Simonds to United States Bronze Sign Co., Inc., New York, dated Spetember 25, 1952, requesting a quote for the bronze tablet. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
6 Copy of letter from M.G. Simonds to the mayor, George Meyer, and various firms involved in the momunent, dated June 12, 1953, inviting each to the dedication ceremony of the Meyer Monument to be held Wednesday, June 24, 1953 and 4:30 PM. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
7 Letter from Mrs. John J. McInnis, also signed by Mr. Julius Jauquet, Mrs. M.L. Mitchell, Mrs. Oscar K. Evenson, and Mrs. John Victor, on behalf of The Civic Welfare, City Beautiful Department of the Woman's Club of Green Bay, dated April 15, 1953. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
8 Complaint form dated March 23, 1964 (probably from a phone call) stating that Mrs. Evenson was concerned that no planting was done; with department response noted. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
9 Letter from George T. Meyer, Donor, to Honorable Mayor of Green Bay, dated March 25, 1967. Meyer also made suggestions for park design. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
10 Copy of letter from Vernon H. Krieser, Director of Parks and Recreation, to George T. Meyer, dated May 22, 1967. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
It is not clear which municipality was the offender with the upstream landfill site. At the time, Bellevue and Allouez were both towns, not villages; further upstream the East River ran through the Town of De Pere (now Town of Ledgeview). De Pere is near but not on the river and it had become a city in 1883 [city website, download April 26, 2011].
11 PRF Plan, Playground Equipment, revised August 1995 (original January 1993). PRF file, East River Meyer Pk..
12 [missing]
13 Letter from Carol Kepler to Bill Landvatter, date July 13, 1997, with copy of minutes of Neighborhood Watch dated June 25, 1997. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
14 Copy of letter from Bill Landvatter, Director, Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, dated July 17, 1997, in reply to Kepler. PRF file, Park Areas: Meyer Park.
15 Copy of Purchase Order #063235 to Gerber Leisure Products, Madison, Wisconsin, for a duplicate of structure ordered & received in 1999 – Eastman Park. Includes photos and plan. PRF file, East River Meyer Play Eq. 2000.
16 Copy of letter from Keith Wilhelm, Superintendent of Parks, to L. Villiers, dated November 21, 2000. PRF file, East River Meyer Play Eq. 2000.
99 [missing]

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: April, 2011
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