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Franklin Park History and Ameriflora


MM>>>FRANKLIN PARK, WHICH ORIGINALLY BEEN SENT UP AS THE HOME OF THE FRANKLIN COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY, LATER WILL BECOME THE STATE FAIR GROUNDS, AND THEN A PUBLIC PARK.>>AT THE END OF THE VICTORIAN ERA, THERE WAS A CITY BEAUTIFUL MOVEMENT. AND IT WAS A MOVEMENT TO BEAUTIFY CITIES AND URBAN AREAS BY CREATING PARKS. AND SO, COLUMBUS INSTITUTED SEVERAL PARKS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE METROPOLITAN AREA INCLUDING FRANKLIN PARK. THE HISTORIC JOHN F. WOLFE PALM HOUSE WAS CONSTRUCTED IN 1895. AND IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE BUILDINGS AT THE CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR OF 1893.>>IT WAS REPUTED ORIGINALLY TO HAVE BEEN BROUGHT DOWN HERE. HOW, ONE DOES NOT KNOW, FROM THE COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION. IN FACT, IT WASN’T. IT WAS BUILT HERE.>>THE FEATURES WERE A BEAUTIFUL LAKE, WHICH IS WEST OF THE PALM HOUSE WHERE WE HAVE THE MALLWAY TODAY. AND THERE’S A 1.2 MILE WALKING PATH THAT PEOPLE USED TODAY FOR EXERCISE AND WALKING THEIR DOGS. AND THAT WAS ACTUALLY A DRIVING TRACK. SO, PEOPLE CAME DOWN FOR A LEISURELY DRIVE AND THERE WAS ALSO AUTOMOBILE RACING. AND SINCE THEN THE PARK HAS BEEN A POPULAR DESTINATION. MM>>BY 1992, CITY DECIDES FOR THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS LANDING IN NEW WORLD, AND WE ARE THE LARGEST CITY IN THE NATION NAMED FOR CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, THAT THEY’RE GONNA INVITE THIS LARGE FLORAL EXHIBIT TO COME HERE CALLED AMERIFLORA.>>IT WAS THE FIRST HORTICULTURALLY THEMED EXPOSITION IN NORTH AMERICA. AND THE GOAL WAS TO BRING PEOPLE HERE FROM ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES AND BEYOND TO VIEW DISPLAYS THAT WERE TYPICAL OF ALL OF THE MAJOR CULTURES IN THE WORLD. THE HISTORIC PALM HOUSE WAS RENOVATED FOR AMERIFLORA AND A $14 MILLION EXPANSION WAS UNDERTAKEN TO CREATE NUMEROUS NEW STRUCTURES TO HOUSE EXOTIC BIOMES. SO, WE BUILT THE HIMALAYAN BIOME, A RAIN FOREST, A DESERT, AND PACIFIC ISLAND WATER GARDEN WHICH ARE STILL HERE TODAY. AND THEN THE PARK, ALL 88 ACRES, WERE PART OF THE AMERIFLORA FESTIVAL. MM AMERIFLORA’S VISION I THINK WAS TO BE A VERY GRAND EVENT. PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH CAME TO KICK IT OFF. AND IT’S OVER TWO MILLION PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE, SO IT WAS HUGE.>>AMERIFLORA BROUGHT WITH IT A LOT OF EXCITEMENT AND A LOT OF PEOPLE TO OUR COMMUNITY. IT BROUGHT SOME MONEY TO REHAB THE HOUSES AROUND THE PARK. IT GAVE US A PLACE IN NATIONAL HISTORY BECAUSE IT WAS SO FAMOUS FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.>>SO, THEY CLOSED THE PARK FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR, OF 1991, FROM THE COMMUNITY. PUT A FENCE UP. TELL THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY YOU CAN’T GO THERE. YOU CAN’T USE THE PARK ANYMORE. AND THEN IN 1992, THEY OPEN IT BACK UP. THEY CHARGE ADMISSION TO EVERYBODY BECAUSE IT’S NOW THIS LARGE EXPOSITION SPACE.>>IT WAS REALLY HARD THAT IT WAS FENCED OFF FOR A WHILE. IT WAS THE COMMUNITY’S PARK AND THEY COULDN’T WALK IN IT WITHOUT PAYING TO GET IN IT. SO, THERE WAS A LOT OF CONTROVERSY AROUND IT DURING THE TIME OF THIS AMERIFLORA.>>I REMEMBER THAT WE KNEW WELL WERE JUST REALLY ADAMANTLY AGAINST THE PARK BEING USED FOR AMERIFLORA. MY MOTHER WAS ON A COMMITTEE FOR IT AND HER PROSPECTIVE WAS IT WAS GOING TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR THE COMMUNITY. SO, I THINK THAT THOSE TWO VIEWS OF TWO PEOPLE WHO WERE NEIGHBORS AND KNEW EACH OTHER WELL SORT OF EPITOMIZES THE CONFLICT. AND MANY DID FEEL THAT THEY WERE BEING MARGINALIZED.>>THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MORE ATTENTION THAT WAS MORE VOCAL. AND THAT YOU COULD SEE A LOT OF THE ENERGY AND RESENTMENT OF PERSONS IN TERMS OF HOW THAT HANDLED.>>I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO WERE PLANNING IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A LITTLE SURPRISED BY THAT. BUT, CONSERVATORY STAFF ACTUALLY WENT OUT INTO THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND TALKED WITH EVERYONE AND ASSURED THEM THAT IT WAS STILL THEIR PARK. AND THEN EVEN DID LANDSCAPING IN THE YARDS OF ALL THE HOUSES SURROUNDING THE PARK.>>REALLY THROUGH TIME, WHAT I HAVE DISCOVERED IS THINGS DO REALLY WORK THEMSELVES OUT. COMMUNITIES DO REALLY COME TOGETHER.>>I THINK AMERIFLORA PROBABLY HAS MIXED REVIEWS IN TERMS OF ITS SUCCESS. BUT, I THINK IN HINDSIGHT, IT WAS CALLING ATTENTION TO A PARK THAT HAD LONG BEEN NEGLECTED.>>PEOPLE BECAME AWARE THAT THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS REALLY WAS QUITE NICE.>>SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT DID COME OUT OF IT WHEN THEY ADDED ALL THE DIFFERENT BIOSPHERES AROUND IT. AND IT ALSO CLEANED UP THE PARK A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE THEY ADDED WATERFALLS, AND THE PERGOLAS IN THE MALL WAY GARDENS. AND THE CONSERVATORY GOT A KICKSTART AT THAT POINT.>>AFTER AMERIFLORA WAS OVER, THE CONSERVATORY STAFF CONTINUED TO GO OUT INTO THE NEIGHBORHOODS AND TALK WITH PEOPLE AND BUILD FRIENDSHIPS. AND THAT ACTUALLY BECAME THE VERY BEGINNING OF WHAT HAS GROWN INTO A VERY VIBRANT COMMUNITY GARDENING PROGRAM CALLED “GROWING TO GREEN.” AND OVER THE YEARS SINCE, THE CONSERVATORY HAS HELPED TO FOUND AND HELPED THRIVE OVER 200 COMMUNITY GARDENS. SO, I THINK IT WAS THE MENDING FENCES AND THE REBUILDING OF THE RELATIONSHIPS HERE LOCALLY AROUND THE PARK THAT TAUGHT US THAT RELATIONSHIP AND SHARING OF EXPERTISE WAS REALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR NEIGHBORS. AND THAT IT BECAME REALLY IMPACTFUL.>>IT’S A FABULOUS ASSET FOR THOSE OF US WHO LIVE HERE. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. IT’S ESSENTIALLY SAFE. IT’S WELL CARED FOR. AND THE NEIGHBORHOOD LOOKS
FOR IT.>>IT IS A TRUE URBAN PARK. AND THE CONSERVATORY HAS KEPT IT GOING, AND KEPT IT BEAUTIFUL, AND MADE IT KIND OF A JEWEL IN THE CITY OF COLUMBUS. MM

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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