East Park Connellsville
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a part of the New Deal agency. Many of the projects focused on recreation, education, youth development, and public services as the types of work programs. WPA hosted many projects in southwestern Pennsylvania of which many of the projects focused on infrastructure improvement and development. At the end of its time, the WPA employed over 8.5 million workers nation-wide. Some of the major projects in Connellsville include the construction of Coker Stadium, the Connellsville Fayette Stadium, and East Park. In early January 1936, new projects were in discussion for the land that was East Park. East Park was created within the first decade of the twentieth century as several citizens of Connellsville looked to see the natural amenities of their town, especially James Breading Hogg.
Hogg was born in nearby Bullskin Township in 1857, but soon after his family moved to New Haven (now known as the West Side of Connellsville). Hogg studied and made his living through Civil Engineering which brought him to work most of his life on the West Coast in Washington and Oregon. In 1900, Hogg returned to Connellsville to work for the H.C. Frick Coke Company. “Mr. Hogg had great faith in the future of Connellsville. He believed, not only that the town would grow, and grow rapidly, but was firm in his conviction that eventually there would be a civic awakening resulting in Connellsville being not only a prosperous city, but a more desirable place in which to live.” Hogg admired the popular “city beautiful” movement and looked to adapt in Connellsville with the addition of East Park. Before the land was known as “East Park,” it was “Hogg’s pasture” where the city’s cows would graze on high grass along the ravine. In part with the development of this area, several attractive homes were constructed where Hogg had lived, and he later named this road “Will’s Road” in honor of his brother. This was the initial interpretation of East Park. Unfortunately over the next few decades, East Park turned into a dumping ground for the City of Connellsville.
In January 1936, Connellsville came together for suggestions to transform the dump back into a more recreational attraction. The Daily Courier on January 14, 1936 reported “Lake Proposition Frowned Upon When Put Before Council.” This was a suggestion from Douglas Mcllvaine of the Recreation Board. This idea came from the natural bowl shape of the ravine. Council decided not to proceed with the lake project, but choose for the WPA to construct a park space with a road replacing the city dump. This transformation started in 1936 and continued until 1940. One of the first things to happen at this site was a fence being built to keep out trucks from dumping. One of the first improvements created was a playground area. By August 1939, many were starting to use the playground area for recreation and even boxing exhibitions.
Even though this event marked the official opening of East Park, it was not complete. The band shell was the last piece of the recreational park to be completed. The funding for this project was announced after the October 12 dedication of the WPA and City of Connellsville.