Currier Park – 1884-1987
- Jim Wade
- February 1, 2017
- 3 Min Read
On April 16, 1883, the village and township residents approved a millage – by a vote of 62 for and seven against – to construct a building to be used by both the village and township. After voter approval, the first order of business was to purchase the land for the building. Several sites within the village were considered, with purchase prices ranging from $600 to $1,000. After problems reaching an agreement to purchase one of these lots, Frederick P. Currier made the village and township an offer that they could not refuse. Free of charge, Currier deeded lots 105 and 106, located on the southeast corner of Branch and West St. Clair Streets. The two lots were to be used for construction of the town hall and a community park.
The town hall was to be constructed on the west lot located adjacent to Branch Street. The east lot, located nearest the stores, was to be developed into a community park.
In 1883, these lots were a small apple orchard. The apple trees were removed and 24 maple trees and 20 evergreen trees were purchased and planted. The maple trees each cost 15 cents and the evergreen trees 50 cents.
The 1898 photograph (above) shows the Town Hall and what had become known as Currier Park. During warm weather, people who worked downtown would relax while eating their lunches. Almont’s first movie theater, owned by Wm. Hammond, opened in the early 1900’s. It was located at 105 South Main Street – currently the lot directly south of Fountain Park.
About 1917-1918, during the summer, there were free showings of movies on Saturday night in Currier Park. A framed sheet was hung from the east wall of the Town Hall. The seating was made of 2” by 6” planks nailed to short posts with the backs made of bark-covered wood. Hildamae Waltz Bowman attended these movies with her mother. Since she was too young to read, her mother, Edith Waltz, would read the sub-titles to her.
In the early 1920’s, Owen Emmons opened the “Star Theater” in the first floor of the Masonic Hall building. The theater was sold to Don and Emma Killam, who operated the theater in the latter half of the 1920’s. They too would show movies on a framed screen hanging on the Town Hall. Don would operate the projector, Emma would sell popcorn and Evesia Bartles would play the piano. Gertie Park Brooks wrote about her brother Floyd “Sam” taking her and her brother Roy to the movies in the park. With the creation of Burley Park in the early 1930’s, Currier Park went back to being used primarily as a picnic area. When the Town Hall was torn down in 1987, the park was eventually converted into a parking lot.