The Spring House (Stereoscopic View)
Many of us remember Eldridge Park as a very special place in our childhood. Mid twentieth century it was an amusement park with Merry Go Round, Ferris Wheel, the Whip, Bumper Cars, kewpie dolls and such. It is gone now, just barren remnants of its existence can be seen. The lake is there but much shrunken from what I remember as a child. In its early years, as described in the following articles, it was a much more elegant place than those of us living now can remember. Feel free to send me a note about your memories of this place to be included at the end of this page.
Joyce M. Tice
|Entrance to Eldridge Park||Maid of the Mist and her Nymph - Casino in Background|
|Hm, Now I wonder where I left my blouse. (Sorry, I had to do that)|
|Towner's "Our County and its People," 1892 tells us a
little about Dr. Eldridge who created the park. Dr. Edwin Eldridge, physician
of Elmira, was married to Hannah Stuart, originally of Monticello. Dr.
Eldridge practiced medicine in Binghamton starting in 1839. In 1857 he
relocated to Elmira. He purchased wilderness land with the little lake
and made it into a garden of great beauty. His unexpected death in 1876
cut short his plans for developing it further. In 1889 The City of Elmira
purchased the park. It was famous in its time for its great beauty.
ELDRIDGE PARK, ELMIRA, N. Y. (Pre 1876 article on back of Van Aken stereoscopic card)
This is one of the most extensive and most handsomely laid out Public Parks in the country. It is nearly two hundred acres in extent, a lake of almost fifteen acres surface forming the nucleus, about which the numerous drives, walks and improvements have been made. There are four entrances to the grounds, one from the west, underneath the track of the Erie Railway; another on the east, near the Driving Park; another on the same side, a little further south, and the main entrance approaching from the city. This is through a broad avenue, lined on each side by numerous willow trees. To the right of this entrance is a large sized statue of Neptune set in a fountain, representing the god in battle with monsters of the deep. To the left on the highest point in the Park is situated the Casino, a large, four story building with a cupola, the pinnacle of this latter being one hundred and fifteen feet from the ground. The view from this, taking in the valley of the Chemung river and Newtown creek at their most interesting points, is unsurpassed anywhere for picturesque beauty and quiet interest, the contrast formed by the thrifty farm lands on one side and the busy city on the other being noticeable. This Casino answers the purpose admirably of a restaurant and an observatory. The restaurant is always provided with everything in its season, and is in charge of Mr. Joshua Jones.
The drives and walks about the grounds are of great extent and variety, the inequalities of the surface being taken advantage of in a singularly apt and tasteful manner. There are many pieces of statuary to be noticed. In front of the main entrance on three mounds, that partially surround a fountain are the figures of Winter, Summer and a Deer, the fountain itself being a figure of a sprite enjoying the water as it gushes forth. A little further on, sitting on a rock in the lake a few feet from the shore, is the figure of Andromeda, a work especially imported for the place it occupies. Further on to the left is a statue of Flora, watching a garden that surrounds her, and in the miniature Lake Sabrina, a figure of that nymph from which it gets its name. On the level plateau south of the Casino is the statue of Contemplation, and also that of the Maid of the Mist. Just below is the jungle or labyrinth, a large and apparently wild piece of undergrowth, pierced by many winding footpaths. Overlooking it, to the west is the statue of the Indian and his dog. Chapel Grove is to the north of the lake and approaching it on prepared elevations, are the statues of "Eve and the Apple." and "Night". A drive to the right of the Casino takes you around the turtle pond and beside the Conservatory, which is to be in charge of Mr. Grove Rawson. Near this is one of the most beautiful figures in the Park, that of "Venus". Proceeding on is Chapel Grove accommodated for purposes of public meetings and Sunday services. Passing and going on around the lake, the Spring Grove is reached, where is a spring of sulphur water. Above it, on a high terrace, is a flower garden, around which by the drive, one of the pleasantest in the Park, is passed the figure of Apollo Belvidere on a mound standing in the center of an artificial lake. Coming back toward the Spring Grove, other miniature lakes are seen, dotting the way like mirrors.
This is but a general view of one of the loveliest spots upon which the eye on man ever rested.
It is all the private property of Dr. Eldridge, but is thrown open to the public for their use, and is eventually to be given by him to the City of Elmira. Parties from all sections of the country visit it, and are always welcome to enjoy its beauties. Hardly a day passes that a picnic from some adjoining town is not held there.
It is easy access from all points and is reached from the city of Elmira by street cars which run with great frequency and regularity.
What Central Park is to New York, Fairmount is to Philadelphia, and the Common and public gardens are to Boston, this garden of beautiful things is to Elmira. When we reflect that the city is growing with almost unexampled rapidity, and will soon surround the loveliest retreats with crowding houses and places of business, we see in a new light the taste and foresight of the gentleman whose liberal hand has wrought these wonders. The passenger on the Erie Railroad, as he leaves Elmira for the west, passes, as he emerges into the open country, a miniature lake, a velvety lawn, with statues, fountains, magnificent drives, neat buildings and ponds. To his inquiry, reply is made that this is Eldridge Park.
The drive to the park is through a willow-bordered avenue leading up to a broad English gateway, with its gate open; no hostile warder warning one away from its loveliness. Passing through this gateway, we see just in front, under the shadow of a large tree, three mounds surrounding a jetting fountain. On two of these mounds stand white statues of the only two seasons known in this climate, and on the third the figure of a deer, which stands as if ready to seek freedom beyond the inclosure. Before us is the circular lake, of about fifteen acres in extent, encircled by a necklace of willow-trees. Around this is a splendid drive, while right and left wind roads in most enticing curves, and views of beauty startle the eye at every step. Turning on the firm gravel to the left, we drive past a boat lying close to the beach, where the lapping waves make a low and peaceful murmur, and delightful vistas are just through the trees, while opposite is the statue of Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia; her mother, Cassiope, boasted of beauty superior to the Nereids. As a punishment for such presumption, Andromeda was chained to a rock in the sea, to be devoured by a sea monster. She was rescued by Perseus, who, after a desperate conflict, slew the monster, and claimed her as his bride. This is a fine copy of a statue by Lawrence McDonald, and which belongs to Queen Victoria. It adorns the Queen’s palace, at Osborne, Isle of Wight.
Rounding the delightful curves and viewing the slopes, skirted by emerald escarpments, whence shoot at every turn sweet surprises, we pass the bowed form of another statue, "Contemplation," who, with pensive head, seems to review the long past.
As we reach the top of the plateau we gaze off over a delightful vista of lake and trees, of flowery nooks, and white, gleaming statues, sparkling fountains, wild dells, beds of flowers, stately trees, and delightful arbors, and a paradise it seems before us; beyond is Sabrina, and over the trees the lake; around us a spacious lawn inclosing another basin, where, as if floating in her boat of shells, stands the "Maid of the Mist," just risen from the sea; a veil of thinnest gauze, air woven from the myriad drops that shoot upwards around her, half hiding her beautiful form. As we turn, a rainbow kindles the mist, as if Iris herself was hiding there, and the maid is transformed into some aerial being.
It was an experiment, throwing these choice grounds open to the public. It is a compliment to the taste and good sense of the public that this confidence is not abused. No articles are sold within its inclosure, and one annoying drop in almost every cup of bliss is banished from here.
The streetcars run to the park. The grounds comprise some two hundred acres.
All through the summer season, Eldridge Park is the favorite resort of people from everywhere, who carry away from it memories that will not soon die.
Through the property of a private person ,Dr. Edwin Eldridge, of Elmira, it is for the benefit of the public, and will be a donation to the city of which it forms one of the most notable features. Constant improvements and additions are being added to it in every shape to make it year by year one of the loveliest spots on the face of the earth.
Stereoscopic Views of all points of interest in the above Park, and also complete sets of WATKINS and HAVANA GLEN VIEWS constantly on hand and for sale by
J. E. LARKIN 118 Water Street, Elmira, N.Y.
There is a natural Lake, nearly a mile in circumference, of clear and sparkling water, with a gravel drive around it, shaded by trees. There are several trout ponds, in which are many thousands of the speckled beauties, ranging in size from the mere spawn up to the full grown fish. Elegant statuary, brilliant beds of flowers, and sparkling fountains are seen on every hand. Beautiful drives, cool and pleasant walks shaded by trees under which are rustic seats for the accommodations of visitors, are running in all directions. Ample accommodations are furnished for pic-nic parties, and the Doctors men wait on them when they come. The Sunday and Common Schools for miles around, come here for their pic-nics; and the Doctor is never so well pleased as when his grounds are full of happy children with their parents and teachers.
On one bank of the lake is a beautiful grove, in which is erected a gothic preaching stand with a marble statue of an angel, with outspread wings, standing behind a desk. Here every Sunday evening, during the summer, the gospel is preached to a crowd of attentive listeners, seated on benches furnished by the Doctor. Dr. Eldridge has men constantly employed to keep his park in order, and has made, we are told, provision in the disposition of his property to have this kept up for all time to come, free to the public.
These views are published and sold, wholesale and retail by J. H. Whitley At No. 201 East Water Street Elmira, N.Y.
|Eldridge Park in the 1960s.||Merry Go Round ring from Joan NASH O'Dell scrapbook.|
More articles abou tmore recent phases of Eldridge Park will be added later