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Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).
Reproduced exactly as published in 1971 - no updates, no corrections.


photo: park

  TORNADO OF 1898----Many of the trees in Gregory Square were destroyed by a tornado which swept through parts of Brainerd in 1898. Trees were soon planted in the park and landscaping begun.

Gregory Square Was Pine Forest City Won Ownership in Court Fight


Gregory Square, a park-like beauty spot near the center of Brainerd, was once a huge stand of stately virgin Norway and Jack pine surrounded by a wooden fence.

In 1871, when the plat of Brainerd was filed for record, a center square was left from subdivision and market "reserved." This area became Gregory Square. It was named from the middle name of John Gregory Smith, the first president of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Although the square was not designated as a park, someone must have felt that Brainerd should have one. It was a dense pine forest, four square blocks in size. To become a park, it would be necessary to develop the area, put in some sort of lighting, construct paths and maintain and patrol the area.

As Brainerd grew, the beauty of the area must have been recognized for houses were built surrounding it and pioneer citizens requested the city council to cut paths through the forest.

photo: park

  PARK PAGODA----The pagoda and a pool featured the landscaping in Gregory park about 50 years ago. The concrete floors of the pagoda still remain. The pool now is a rose garden.

By 1885, early citizens were showing park consciousness. The question of ownership arose. If the Lake Superior and Puget sound Company, which was platting townships, selling lots and locating industries along the new railroad claimed ownership, it would be their job to take care of the area.

However, the company might decide to subdivide the square city lots. This possibility abhorred many early inhabitants.

The city council then went on record claiming the area was owned by the city. The city attorney investigated title and was instructed to bring suit, if necessary, in order to establish city ownership.

A long legal battle with suit starting in the United States Circuit Court. Through the efforts of the city attorney, W. S. McClenahan, on Jan. 25, 1892 the Circuit Court decreed ownership to the city of Brainerd.

+ A long legal battle involving the City of Brainerd and the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Co. was fought before Brainerd acquired title to Gregory Park on Jan. 25, 1892.

In 1887, while the suit was still on, a fence was built to enclose the area, Earlier C. F. Kindred erected a stand in the center of the area for the city band. Catastrophe struck Gregory Square on June 2, 1898, when a tornado or cyclone swept through the magnificent pine in the Square. This was followed by the necessary clearing and cleaning.

In 1899, the council authorized $200 for plantings. In 1900 another $100 was added. Box elders and poplars replaced the majestic pines and the old band stand was removed.

In 1909, under the Home Rule Charter, the Park Board with S. R. Adair as chairman, authorized improvements to Gregory Square. A concrete wading basin with fountain was built and encircled with a vine-covered pergola. Trees were trimmed and cinder paths were laid.

In 1912, as a memorial to Charles N. Parker, one of the Brainerd pioneers, a new band stand was built in the park, the gift of the Parker family. In 1930, Cornelius O'Brien Sr., donated the money to erect a cut-stone gateway to be designed by a landscape artists and to be placed on 6th Street.

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