Few people knew in 1957 that a highway that would never be built would lead to one of the finest park facilities in the nation, and one that came with minimal cost to the taxpayers.

When the State of Illinois announced plans for the "Berm" Highway through downtown Alton, Mayor Leo Struif pointed out to the Park Board Chairman, Dr. Gordon F. Moore, that the city would need to relocate the athletic facilities at the foot of Henry Street and in Riverfront Park. Dr. Moore immediately began to search for alternatives. One area that especially interested him was the old State Hospital farm located east of Alton on Route 140. Dr. Moore knew that the farmland saw little use as methods of treating patients at that facility changed.

In 1971 the voters in Alton stalled the efforts to acquire the land when a referendum to purchase the property was defeated. Undaunted, Dr. Moore simply changed tactics and sought to have the land donated to the city. In 1975 the State of Illinois conveyed over 200 acres of land to the City of Alton. Then the work really began.

An Alton Park Development Committee was formed to receive public input on park use and development. With Pride in the forefront, resources were garnered from every segment of society. Over the next 20 years a wonderful mixture of volunteerism, philanthropy and dedication resulted in one of the finest community parks in the nation.

Under the leadership of Dr. Moore and Bill Parker, area labor and trade unions set a standard for volunteerism that is unmatched. Countless numbers of donated hours were converted into baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a lake, several recreation areas, picnic shelters, comfort stations and parking lots.

Generous donations of supplies and materiel by area suppliers were matched by donations of equipment and fuel by local contractors. Special bequests by Dr. Robert Elliott resulted in a magnificent rose garden, dedicated to his late wife, Nan. Other bequests resulted in the development of a great tennis center, and a hosta garden. Through the generosity of the Spencer and Anne Olin Foundation, an 18 hole championship golf course was added. The course was host to a National U.S.G.A. Championship in 1999.


Copyright: Pride Inc. 2014