Lititz Springs Park


Lititz Springs Park History For over 200 years the Lititz Moravian Church maintained the Lititz Springs Park and kept it open to the public. However, over the years, the maintenance of the park became an increasing burden to the congregation. The park grounds were turned over to the community of Lititz, Pennsylvania through a 'Declaration of Trust' on October 19, 1956. This placed the management and operation of the park in the hands of a 12 member Board of Trustees comprised of representatives of various local churches and several members-at-large. Today, Lititz Springs Park, a non-profit organization and is not supported by tax revenues. Consequently, the park is maintained through volunteer help; conducted by the trustees; and the rental of park facilities. The annual 4th of July celebration and annual antique shows are the only fund raising efforts that keep the park thriving as a beautiful centerpiece to the town of Lititz. In 1994, the care of the Lititz Memorial Square was added to the responsibilities of the Lititz Springs Park Board of Trustees. LITITZ SPRINGS PARK HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS SCENIC SERENITY Veiled in the mists of the dim, ancient past, the seven-acre expanse that became the Lititz Springs Park was traversed and inhabited, many centuries ago, by Native Americans. The area, endowed by Nature with extraordinary beauty, was initially a watering place for cattle in the neighborhood. The Lititz Creek, flowing through the Park, was known for many years as Carter's Run, named after Richard Carter who, emigrating from Warwickshire, England, in 1729, was one of the region's earliest settlers. In Carter's day, the headwaters of the Springs were marshes fed by several converging, underground streams that, originated in the hills to the northwest of Lititz. Describing the limited social activity at the time, a community observer wrote that "there lived on Owl Hill an old man, one Daddy Huhn, who remembered going, as a small boy, to the Spring to fetch home a horse that his father had bought from the Indians living there. That was in 1730." The first reported use of the Lititz Springs Park as a pleasure place was in May of 1778 when Tobias Hirte, a local music teacher, and a small orchestra of the town's young men gave evening concerts. This lively entertainment was viewed as trifling and too worldly by the "Aufseher Collegium," the said Moravian governing authority. But, the soldiers of the Revolutionary War battles of Brandywine and Germantown, convalescing on the hospital at the Moravian Brethren's House, immensely enjoyed the concerts. In 1780, the basin was surrounded with a rough stone wall. A broad swamp extended several acres on the northern side, and "in the springtime the water was of sufficient depth to admit boats being rowed upon its surface."However, it was not until 1792 that a meeting of Lititz citizens was called to take additional steps to improve the Springs. The town fathers, who were afraid that such a "Lustplatz" would encourage too much worldliness, reluctantly gave their permission to use an acre of ground around the "Big Spring" and to begin work, thus providing a location for recreational activities. Trees were planted, arbors were built and walks were laid. Also at the same time, the arched stone bridge was constructed. As the Springs became an increasingly popular gathering place, the need for additional upgrading of the environs was recognized. In 1810, the young men of Lititz "planted an avenue of locust trees leading from near the Springs' head, on the south side, along a lane by the base of the hill to the Manheim road." It was not until 1835 that further efforts were initiated to improve and beautify the spring and the grounds. The town committee gave its approval for fences to be built by voluntary labor. The cost of construction was thirty dollars. "Work was done each year," an interested resident observed, "and from 1835 to 1840, first one thing and then another was added to the place, which was already becoming a thing of beauty." From 1846 to 1856, the Lititz Springs Park was placed under the care of John Beck, the Principal of the Lititz Academy, who expended a considerable amount of his own resources to plant trees, thereby enhancing the overall attractiveness of the grounds. When the steep bank around the springhead was contoured in 1855, three additional springs, which have continued to flow from the wall, were uncovered. In 1856, a committee of the town's civic-minded men, having accepted sandstone-in-the-rough from the Colemans of Brickerville, placed founts and coping around the head-end of the Springs, which was constructed in a graceful, elliptical design. At the foot of a ledge of rocks which formed the Springs' western terminus, water gently bubbled to the surface and, from here, moved slowly along an easterly route through a narrow, walled channel shaded on both sides by beautiful trees. The Springs, dedicated in 1856 as a public park, had now become a favorite spot at which townspeople leisurely gathered. In addition to its beautiful stream, its shaded walkways and its well-kept, natural environment, the Park was decorated in 1857 by a lion's head elegantly carved by J. Augustus Beck, a native of Lititz; and strategically placed to the right of the spring-head near the steps. Sometime later, Paul E. Beck, his father, Abraham; and his brother, Herbert, put a stone tablet into the wall at the Springs' head-end, upon which was engraved a German inscription, Gottes Brunnlein hat Wasser die Fulle ("God's Fount is never failing.") To the perseverant men who began and, then, oversaw the improvements to the Lititz Springs Park, the possibility that the facility would become a much-used picnic ground was never envisioned. But, with the completion of the railroad in 1863, visitors from Reading and elsewhere frequently traveled to Lititz. Thus, Sunday-school picnics and other community group outings permanently became regular social activities in the Park. In 1884 the Lititz Moravian Congregation leased a parcel of land situated on the northeast corner of the Springs Grounds to the Philadelphia and Reading Company. On this site a new passenger and express station was erected. Because of the station, the yearly July Fourth celebration in the park attracted more and more people. In 1880, the Round House (oldest building on the grounds), which was probably removed from a fairground near Lititz, was reconstructed in the Park. In 1906, a new octagon shaped music pavilion was constructed by Neidermyer Bros. near the site of the present-day refreshment stand. The structure was designed by Paul E. Beck, maestro of the Beck Concert Band. In 1927, on the hill behind the Spring's head-end, the Log Cabin was built by Lititz Boy Scout Troops 2 and 3. In January, 1937, P. F. Snyder, representing the Lititz Springs Park governing body, addressed the Lititz Chamber of Commerce upon the need of rewaking the interest of the people of Lititz; suggested that the Chamber sponsor some much-needed improvements in the Springs Park. From his talk and subsequent discussion came the Park Improvement Project which included the construction of the present day band shell (dedicated to the memory of Paul E. Beck) and a comfort station. Improved landscaping of the grounds also occurred. COMMUNITY LEGACY As a multifaceted community celebration in Lititz, the observance of Independence Day has been, for 179 years, the most significant public occasion that has annually brought countless people to the Lititz Springs Park. During its history, the Park, however, has provided a naturally beautiful environment in which various other noteworthy events have occurred. In 1908 for three days (August 13, 14 and 15), Belshazzar's Feast, an immense musical spectacle, under the guidance of Calvin S. Loeffler, a local school teacher, was presented. From 1912 through 1914, meetings of Chautauqua were held in the Park. The week-long meetings encompassed such varied and wholesome recreational activities as dramatic productions, lectures, philosophical discussions and orchestral concerts. On July 25, 1914, the Honorable William Jennings Bryan, the Secretary of State in the Woodrow Wilson Administration, was the guest speaker. Many local veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic held reunions and encampments in the Park. The final encampment of Stevens Post No. 517 of the G.A.R. was held on Decoration Day, May 31, 1920. In July of 1940, the Lititz Dramatic Theatre was organized and the comedy, George Washington Slept Here, was presented in the Park's Band Shell. Ravaged by both time and Nature, the Park by the mid-1950's, required improvements that would both beautify and modernize its physical appearance. During the summer of 1956 when Lititz celebrated its Bicentennial, Elmer H. Bobst, an internationally-known philanthropist and the Chairman of the Board of the Warner-Lampert Pharmaceutical Company, returned to his boyhood home of Lititz for the celebration and surprised the community by announcing a bequest of $100,000 for the complete rehabilitation and restoration of the Park. On October 29, 1956, the Lititz Moravian Congregation, although continuing to retrain ownership of the Park, relinquished its managerial responsibility for the facility and, by a perpetual "declaration of trust" placed the actual operation of the Park under the control of an incorporated, community-represented, twelve-member Board of Trustees, which, under the terms, was to include a cross section of other churches in the community. The trust also stipulated that the famous Fourth-of-July celebration "shall continue in keeping with the traditions of Lititz." Thus on Sunday, September 14, 1958, the Park, with its priceless historical and sentimental values, was rededicated and entrusted to the community. During the celebration of the Nation's Bicentennial, a 250-voice community chorus sang at a Christian Heritage Music Festival on July 4, 1976. To conclude the local participation of Lititz in the country's 200th anniversary observance, the Bicentennial Christian Heritage Community Night was held on September 5. The featured speaker was The Honorable Walter H. Judd, a medical missionary to China and a former United States Congressman. On July 14, 1979 and again July 5, 1980, Fred Waring and his Young Pennsylvanians performed in the Park. The renowned American and his thirty-member chorus presented a vocal extravaganza of varied songs. The historic significance of two anniversaries- the 300th observance of the chartering of Pennsylvania and the 225th commemoration of the founding of Lititz- was fittingly noted, on July 19, 1981, with a festive celebration and a thanksgiving service in the Park. The Honorable Richard L. Thornburg, the Governor of Pennsylvania, gave an address. In honor of the commemorative event in Lititz, he also read a formal proclamation which was graciously accepted and acknowledged by the Honorable Raymond S. Reedy, the Mayor of Lititz. The playground equipment selected during the the Park's renovation of 1957-58 served well for many years. Over time many changes and improvements were made, but more were needed. Finally it became necessary to consider a total revision of the existing play areas. It was "Our Kids' Turn" for playground renewal and expansion! In 1992, a committee was established to raise funds and construct a new accessible children's area, older youth area, fitness course and beach volleyball. This all became possible through the unselfish support of the Lititz community. The new playground was dedicated July 4, 1993. December of 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union, acting on behalf of at least one local resident's complaint, asked the Borough of Lititz to remove the creche from the square because of a possible Constitutional violation. The controversy raised the question of who owns the triangular parcel of land known as the Lititz Memorial Square. Through the research by John Pyfer, a Lancaster attorney, the Lititz Moravian Congregation ascertained that they owned the square. At a congregational meeting held Sunday, August 14, 1994, the Moravian Congregation voted to enter into a Declaration of Trust that allowed the Board of Trustees of Lititz Springs Park to "maintain, operate and develop the square for the benefit of the residents of Lititz." In addition, the Trustees shall "continue the annual Christmas Nativity Scene in a manner and form which will be in keeping with the history and traditions of the Christmas celebration of Lititz." At the August 16, 1994 meeting, the Park Board of Trustees accepted the Declaration of Trust. A memorial fountain was placed in the basin at the main entrance by Lititz Springs Post No. 1463, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary and was dedicated July 2, 1994. This beautiful fountain was provided for all to enjoy and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we might be able to live in freedom and continue tocelebrate our Nation's Birthday. December 2, 1994, the Lititz Springs Park Board, in cooperation with the Lititz Retailers" Association worked together to bring the community a new tradition, "Christmas in the Park": a wintertime delight, which featured the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree and the illumination of 1,000 candles on the stream by the youth of Lititz. To generations of community residents, the Lititz Springs Park has always been an important place to gather. Visitors, who once came to town by train and trolley, now travel to Lititz by automobile over the roadways that have facilitated access to the Park. The community's commitment to preserving the Park, as an idyllic retreat from the effects of an ever-changing society, is recognized in the cooperative spirit of voluntarism by which the facility's attractive physical appearance is maintained. So, each year, many volunteers give countless hours of time and effort to its continued upkeep. The community's churches, various civic groups and individuals contribute to its financial support. Additional operating resources are derived form the admission fees charged for the Independence Day celebrations, and rental fees for the Spring and Labor Day antique shows and the rents collected from family reunions and other events. Although the Park is available every day for the community use, the season of its busiest activity is during the summer months. During July and August of each year, various worship services and musical programs, sponsored by the Warwick Association of Churches under the auspices of the Warwick Area Ministerium, are held every Sunday evening. With its incomparable beauty and its scenic serenity, the Lititz Springs Park is certainly a community legacy. It is a place of gala celebration and family gathering and individual quietude. It is indeed a place of community pride. Researched and Written by R. Ronald Reedy

Site design by Penny Lane Graphics  : :  © Lititz Springs Park  : :  All Rights Reserved