History of Green Bay's Parks

St. James Park

This was originally known as Webster Square, and the land was donated by John Jacob Astor and Associates or the American Fur Co. in 1835. For many years this was known as the Concert Park where a band shell was erected every summer for concerts by the City Band and other musical groups.

A nativity scene was put up for a few years at the request of the Association of Commerce. The Congregational Church used the playground and shelter for their nursery school operation during the 60’s, and a new shelter was constructed in 1970.

As a Bicentennial Project in 1976, the Astor Park Neighborhood Association held a "Government Night" at the park, which included free tours of historic neighborhood homes, Hazelwood, a band concert and a strawberry social. A special invitation was extended to government employees, elected officials and members of boards and commissions.

In 1978, the Astor Park Neighborhood Association was given permission to sell popcorn and pop during the City Band concerts on Thursday evenings during the summer, with a charge of $10.00 a season for the use of electricity in the shelter. Howie Paulson put in wiring from the church tower across the street in 1968 so that the carillon would be part of the band concerts.

1992 - Due to complaints from the neighborhood, guidelines were adopted for St. James Park to allow three hours of activity with two hours of music and a one-hour break in between.

2002 - In late fall of 1999, Jean Smith Coward Mason of Durham, North Carolina contacted the Parks and Recreation Department indicating that her family would like to honor their mother with a memorial in St. James Park. Their mother, Mildred Ruth Smith, grew up at 722 South Monroe (corner of Monroe and Spring) and was instrumental in helping to start the Mayor’s Committee for a Cleaner Green Bay which is now the Mayor’s Beautification Committee.

At the same time, meetings were being held with the newly formed Astor Neighborhood Association to discuss improvements to both Astor and St. James Parks. Eventually, through a series of meetings, it was decided that a gazebo/bandshell would be a desired park feature and could replace the aging stage that was in need of repair. This would also provide a "new home" for the City Band, which regularly plays their concerts in St. James Park and would be celebrating their 100-year anniversary in 2002.

Jean S.C. Mason and her brother, Dan F. Smith, Mildred’s two children, were excited about this as a project and pledged to donate $100,000 towards the development of this facility. A local architect, David Van Lanen, was hired to design this facility, which was completed in time for the 2002 concert season. Ms. Mason and Mr. Smith attended the dedication in June of 2002.


  1. 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.
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