City Officials Honor The Hundred Acre Lot With New Historical Marker

JAMESTOWN –  The City’s Historical Marker Committee is tasked with installing one historical marker each year under the guidance of long-time City Historian B. Dolores Thompson. This year, the Committee has chosen the former Hundred Acre Lot, now known as Jamestown Community College’s “College Park”, as the recipient of the 2018 marker. The event was celebrated with a ceremony at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Sam Teresi with officials from JCC and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, unveiling the historical marker for Hundred Acre Lot.
Credit: City of Jamestown.

Currently owned by JCC, the Hundred Acre Lot owes its existence to teachers, students, and alumni of Jamestown Public Schools, who worked for three years, between 1913 and 1916, to raise the necessary funds to purchase the land in an attempt to save it from being deforested.
Through their efforts, the beloved patch of forest became one of the first school parks in the United States in 1916.
According to Jennifer Champ from the Fenton History Center, in the spring of 1913, teachers of JPS  formed the “Hundred Ace Lot Association” and initiated a campaign to raise the $8,250 ($212,887 in today’s money) needed to buy the land, asking every “man, woman and child in Jamestown, who has an interest in the future of our city” to give.
Mary Willard, a teacher at JPS, emerged as a driving force behind the effort. Ms. Willard contacted former students to enlist their support.
“Let the spirit of your childhood re-visit that loved spot for five minutes and you will surely be swept onward by the tide of enthusiasm that has caught us and all the devotees new and old of the beautiful Hundred Acre Lot,” she urged.
The response was overwhelming. The Association raised over half the money, $4,250, needed to purchase the property.
In the fall of 1915, the Association held a community festival in order to raise the remaining money. The festival took place on June 2 through the 3 of 1916, and was held on the grounds of the former Jamestown High School building in downtown Jamestown.
Every teacher within the district and their class were part of the festivities. As a member of the Committee, Ms. Willard orchestrated a large Shakespearean pageant to celebrate Shakespeare’s 350th birthday.
The event was a rousing success and the Hundred Acre Lot officially became the property of JPS.
Pam Brown, a retired Records Management Coordinator for JPS, was instrumental in discovering the details of the story through surviving documents and archival materials in the school archives.
The spirit of the park’s early advocates lives on today with JCC’s Sustainability Committee, which includes several JCC faculty members.
Following in the footsteps of Ms. Willard, JCC biology instructors still bring their students out to College Park to this day, to understand firsthand the importance of biodiversity and conservation.
A “Forest Stewardship Task Force” was recently formed by retired JCC biology professor Becky Nystrom, which includes a number of JCC faculty, staff, and community members who are devoted to raising awareness of the park and ensuring the preservation of its ecological treasures for years to come.
Jamestown Mayor Samuel Teresi was also on hand to offer words of congratulations to the Marker Committee and all those involved with installing the 2018 marker.