Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pocket Parks, oh my!

The Historic Fan District is an eighty-five block Victorian residential neighborhood west of Richmond’s downtown commercial area. The Fan is the oldest collection of Victorian Houses in America and the neighborhood as a whole, is on the register of Historic Places. It is home to many cafes, restaurants and bars that are always filled by a combination of young professionals and older wealthy individuals that inhabit the neighborhood.
The houses, seemingly uniform at first glance, display a wide variety of facades, porches and rooflines that signify the many architectural influences during the Fans boom in the early 1900’s. In order to promote the residential development westward, the city established a series of public parks. Most Fan parks are triangular due to the intersection of diagonal cross streets with the expanding east-west pattern of Fan Streets.
However, hidden among the uniform rows sit the Fan’s best-kept secret. The elusive pocket parks, which in this case, are created on vacant building lots and are hidden from street view. A modern day Garden of Eden would be going to far, but nonetheless, these are tranquil slices of green that are a welcomed surprise in a concrete jungle.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to Scuffletown Park by a friend that lives very close by. Intrigued by the secret garden fairy tale, I had to know if more existed and indeed, there were two more, Paradise Park and Federal Park. They are surrounded by houses on all sides, however, you don’t get the feeling of being center stage as trees and fences create an isolated feel that allows you to enjoy the peaceful break from the norm. Each park is slightly different in appearance, yet the similarities you’ll find are the main draw. Large trees that cast a calming shade over benches, areas for children to play and a sense of serenity that is protected by the surrounding houses.
This year, the eight park support groups in the Fan are working together on a massive park clean up. Organized by the Fan Woman’s Club Neighborhood Improvement Committee and the Fan District Association’s Parks and Trees Committee, they will co-sponsor the First Annual Spring Clean Up involving every park in the Fan. I have already signed up to help with my three pocket parks, as it’s the least I can do, considering that they provide me with so much.

Elusive Entrances

Federal Park: Alleyway in-between Main St. and Floyd Ave. on Rowland St.

Paradise Park: Alleyway in-between Floyd Ave. and Grove Ave. on Vine St.

Scuffletown Park: Alleyway in-between Stuart Ave. and Park Ave. on Strawberry St.

1 comment:

Donna Joyce said...

Paradise Park Facebook page

The Fan District Association/Fan Women's Club used to have all-Fan-parks bi-annual cleanups for about three years and stopped in Fall 2008. I am sure from time to time one group or another has taken up the charge. We had a little spring cleanup in Paradise Park and are gathering to brainstorm about the park this Wed. evening. Feel free to join us! So glad to see your love of pocket parks! Donna