News Column

Cedar Valley 50: Overman Park home of municipal band concerts, farmers market

August 29, 2014

By MacKenzie Elmer, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

Aug. 29--CEDAR FALLS -- Overman Park is the earliest documented park acquired by the city, in 1853.

The full block of green space is in the heart of the Vintage Home District near downtown, between Second and Third streets.

An ornate bandshell crowns the crest of the park's hill. The Cedar Falls Municipal Band began raising funds for its permanent concert home in 1994. About $250,000 was raised to pay for it.

Within two years, the band shell was completed for its inaugural concert June 5, 1996. More than 700 people still turn out at Overman Park for summer concerts.

The names of those who donated money for the shell's construction were engraved on a brick or etched in a plaque that hangs in the shell.

Third Street, which runs along the south end of Overman Park, has hosted the city farmers market for more than 20 years. The city council pondered moving the market in 1996, but citizens rose against the notion since the flat, shady street proved a prime spot for produce.

Cedar Falls' first mayor, John Overman, donated the Overman Park property to the city in 1853. He had intended the land would be used for the Black Hawk County Courthouse. The plot was originally called "Court House Square."

Visionary community leaders, including George Wyth and Walter Voorhees, started the Cedar Falls Park Commission in 1919 and added several larger recreation areas to serve the growing population's needs.

That web of park land, which now includes 33 parks and more than 1,500 acres full of trees, two golf courses, a swimming pool, playgrounds and recreational trails can be traced back to Overman's initial donation of the plot of land.


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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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