Mindowaskin Park History

According to the History of Town of Westfield, written by Charles Philhower and published in 1922, four Native American Indians of the Lenni-Lenape tribe of the Algonquin Nation sold the land that includes what is now Westfield, to New Jersey Governor Gawen Lowry on 1684. One of those Native Americans was named Mindowaskin, and the park is named after him.

"Mindowaskin Park was created in two stages, the first in 1907, the second in 1916 - 1918".  The Westfield Leader of November 6, 1907 reported, "The deed for Clark's Lake, purchased for $2,000.00 raised by the subscription of 250 citizens of the town, was presented to the Council by Councilman A. L. Russell, a member of the Park Commission. "

The lake was purchased from Patrick Traynor, a local businessman and leading citizen, who had purchased the Clark property. The lake was  created in 1859 at the urging of "Aunt Abby" Clark, widow of Thomas W. Clark, who purchased the historic property from the Baker family in 1816. (Earlier settler Nathaniel Baker had kept a tannery on the stream) The lake supplied the ice for Westfield households until about 1888, when the icehouse burned down. (Echo Lake then became  Westfield's source of ice). The Municipal Building now stands on the site of the former Baker and Clark-Traynor houses.

The lake became a popular skating pond -- much more frequented than in recent years. In 1916 a movement sprang up to complete the park by converting swampland and cleaning up "Peckham's Dump" on Mountain Avenue. The Town Council was besieged by a group of citizens known as "The Clinks" who were concerned by alleged plans to make the lake smaller. Unanimity was attained, however, and Mindowaskin Park was dedicated and named on June 1, 1918.

In a short history of Mindowaskin Park written in the 1950's Arthur N. Pierson noted that Reeve was in charge of the funds collected in 1907.

"To make it a popular subscription, individual gifts were requested between 25 cents and $25. The total cost was $2,017.30. This was really the start of Mindowaskin Park," Pierson wrote.

Pierson, as president of the Park Commission in 1918, presented the completed park to Mayor Henry W. Evans in a huge wartime ceremony attended by Governor Walter Edge. (Excerpts used with permission of The Westfield Leader - Publisher Horace Corbin).

In recent years, the pond has silted over, with many sections now being only inches deep. The has allowed vegetation to grow and choke big sections of the pond's shoreline. In preparation for the park's centennial celebration in June of 2018, the pond was dredged in late 2016/early 2017, and the eroded banks were restored. As the restoration project continues, the lighting will be refurbished, and the pathways will be redone.

Friends of Mindowaskin Park

The Friends of Mindowaskin, Inc.
P.O. Box 87, Westfield, NJ 07091

Over 100 years of enjoyment
for Westfield residents
and patrons