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A Brief History of Clokey Park

Clokey Park (officially J.M. Clokey Park), was first platted in April 1888 with its western half as part of the East Park Boulevards development. The Decatur Daily Review described the East Park Boulevards as “an elegant residence addition”:

“The grounds are already inviting and attractive, but will become more so as spring advances and the shade and blooming trees extend their branches. The boulevards on First (now 16th Street) and Fourth (now 19th) and on Prairie and Main are lined with blooming trees in great variety; catalpa and linden are on the grounds for the boulevards on William and for the centre of the avenue.[1]”

The park itself was not described, and was merely labeled as “park” on the East Park Boulevard plat. The eastern section of the nearly 2 acre park was developed as part of Urban Place Addition in 1893. All small park boulevards within the two subdivisions were to be used for “ornamental and decorative purposes.” The park itself apparently became pasture for the next 20 years, its primary public use being “for staking out their cows in summer[2].”

It was while the city was in the midst of negotiating for a donation of land for a park on the east end that the sleepy cow pasture on East Main received renewed attention. Josiah Clokey wrote to the Mayor and city commissioners:

Hon. Mayor and City Commission,

City.

Gentlemen:

In matter of parks indicated on plats of E. Park Boulevards and Urban place and in furtherance of my assurances, allow me to submit for your consideration:

I understand that you have under advisement a proposition in reference to what is known as the Springer Tract. As suggested to you, you can doubtless secure from The Decatur Brick Company and Mattes. Bros. a strip 100 feet wide extending from Springer Tract north to E. Wood St., and also a like strip from the Powers heirs paralleling the former, thus giving an approach to the park, 200 feet in width and allowing of main entrance on E. Wood St. Sidewalks are already within a few blocks of the proposed entrance and can be readily extended to same.

Now let me say that if within reasonable time you secure the above tract and approaches, I will convey to the city or Park commissioners the “Park” on East Main Street with plots in center of E. Main and E. Prairie Streets, the city or park to maintain the same in proper order.

On E. Prairie Street, I graded and sodded the 20 foot strip in center and set same in trees but when the sewer on that street was laid, the plot was entirely removed and street left in bad condition. This strip I want placed in shape as prior to laying the sewer.