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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The "The Cool Town With A History: Part III - Lititz Springs Park" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Taking a few photos of the lion that stands watch over the spring at Lititz Springs Park.  It was the Moravian Congregation in the town of Lititz that at one time held the title to the land on which the park was established in 1778 when Lititz was a Moravian Community.  
A plaque, as you enter the park, honors
Elmer Holmes Bobst for his generosity,
interest in human welfare, and love for
Lititz, his boyhood home. He made
possible the restoration and development
of this park.  Click to enlarge.
Today the park is under the management of the borough of Lititz.  The park in 1778 was under the control of the Aufseher Collegium or the Moravian Church.  At the time the park grounds were used for the musicians of the congregaton who were in the habit of indulging, late into the night, in merry making at the Big Spring.  At the time, a young Moravian musician by the name of Tobias Hirte, had laid out a special place for merriment and against the better judgement of the "closed" Moravian Church community, an acre of ground around the Big Spring was developed as a park (known at the time as a pleasure ground) by planting arbors and trees and laying out walks.  The arched stone bridge was built between 1800 and 1802.  From 1846 to 1856 the park was used by John Beck who had a boys school in Lititz.  Many of the trees that stand today were planted by his school boys.  The sandstone fonts and coping around the head of the spring were laid in 1856 by a committee of public-spirited men of the town.  The spring is considered one of the strongest in Pennsylvania.  At the far west end of the park is a lion's head, carved into the stone above the spring in 1857 by artist J. Augustus Beck.  In 1937 a band shell was constructed and dedicated in memory of Prof. Paul E. Beck, band and orchestra leader in the Lititz Public Schools.  Carol and I have visited the park on the Fourth of July for many years and listened to concerts held in the band shell.  As early as 1811 Fourth of July celebrations were held at the park and in 1843 the candle illumination ceremony was introduced when 400 candles were lit.  Today thousands of candles illuminate the stream leading from the Big Spring to Broad Street in downtown Lititz on July 4.  My photos will take you on a walking tour of the beautiful park as it is today.  It was an extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.


This was the first entrance into Lititz Springs Park off of Broad Street, the main street running north to south through Lititz, PA.  The sign was made of wood with the word "Springs" arched over the top.  All of the old time black and white photos in this photo essay were taken by Robert "Sketch" Mearig who was born in Lititz in 1923, spent many days of his childhood playing in the park, served his country while in the Army during the Battle of the Bulge, was a Lititz mailman for 32 years and photographer of the Lititz Springs Park. 
This is the entrance as it appears today.  
This photo shows what was known as fern island as you entered the park.  Fern island, a small island to the left in the photo, was formed in the mid-1800s when a section of the stream flowing from the springs was dammed which created a small island that was planted with native ferns.  
The island still remains, but with fewer ferns than years ago.
This is known as the Springs Head-End located at the far west endof the park.  It was in 1855 that the steep bank around the spring head was contoured.  Three springs were uncovered flowing from caves.  Water gracefully flows eastward and eventually becomes the Lititz Run Stream.  The clear limestone water was believed to heal rheumatism and other ailments.  
The Springs Head-End as it appears today.
On the wall to the right of the Springs Head-End is a lion's head that was carved into the stone in 1857 by Lititz native Julius Augustus Beck.  It is known as the icon of the Lititz Springs Park.  He chose as his model the world famous "Lion of Luerne" in Switzerland.  He had plans to include the shoulders and front paws to his sculpture, but the rock was too hard and ruined his chisels.  On April 26, 2005, someone destroyed most of his work.  It was determined that it couldn't be fixed so a full lion sculpture of granite, symbolic of the "Lion of Lucerne," was placed above the damaged sculpture on the wall. 
This old photograph shows the "Paul E. Beck Memorial Band Shell."  It was built in 1937 and named in honor of the maestro of the Beck Concert Band who enjoyed conducting patriotic scores.  The band shell is the centerpiece of entertainment in the park.  Carol and I have witnessed both July 4th Queen of Candles competition and rock and roll bands. 
My photo of the empty band shell....
... and my photo of Flamin' Dick and the Hot Rods in concert.
This is the Music Pavilion that was dedicated on July 4, 1906.  It was an eight-sided gazebo erected for Beck's Concert Band.  It was built in the area where the current concession stand is now located.
This is the present gazebo that was built in 2004 as a replica of the 1906 music pavilion.  This structure was dedicated in honor of William B. Oehme for his untiring efforts and support of the Lititz Springs Park.
The Round House was originally thought to have been erected as the grandstand on the gorunds of the Warwick Racing Track which was located to the northeast of Lititz.  It was taken down and moved to the park in the early 1880s.  It at first was used for special events, but now serves as a storage facility.
My photograph of the Round House.
This is known as the Arched Bridge which was made from sandstone from the Furnace HIlls in 1856.  The sandstone blocks were brought to the park by horse and cart and was used as coping around the Head-End of the Springs.  It was used to prevent the stream from overflowing and to contain the natural flow of the water.  The Bridge replaced the original stone bridge that was built in the late 1700s.  Today's bridge transports thousands each year as they stroll the grounds of Lititz Springs Park.  I made a trip across it today during my journey throughout the park.
Today's Arched Bridge.









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