Hannibal Bicentennial Steering Committee/HCVB | 505 N. 3rd St. Hannibal MO 63401 | Phone: 573-221-2477 | Email: info@hannibal2019.com

© 2019 by City of Hannibal, MO

PARKS & PUBLIC SPACES

Hannibal boasts more than 25 beautiful parks, many of which are more than 100 years old. Tourists and residents alike enjoy exploring, cooking out, walking, and basking in beautiful settings. Join us for special bicentennial events, or plan your own memorable outing in one of these beautiful spaces. Featured below are details about Central ParkRiverview Park, and Admiral Coontz Armory, three of Hannibal's most popular places.

Central Park: A History

 
  • 1830 - Hannibal’s first schoolhouse, a one-room log cabin, was built on the northwest corner. A frame schoolhouse would replace it in 1835.

  • 1836 - The land for the park was presented to the city “sole behoof of the city of Hannibal as a public ground” by Stephen Glascock.

  • 1847 - First wooden fence installed, mostly to keep livestock out.

  • 1848 - The first notable band, the Hannibal Brass Band played at City Park, as it was called then, the first of many musical performances at the park.

  • 1851- The schoolhouse was demolished because other schools and churches were filling the educational needs.

  • 1857- The Hannibal Brass Band changed its name to the Silver Cornet Band.

  • 1858 - The Town Square became City Park, or Central Park. Before 1858, what came to be Central Park was an overgrown briar patch. There was brush growing all around it and there were wild animals living in it. People even used to put their livestock there.

  • 1858 - The whole town of Hannibal worked together to get the mounds of dirt out of Central Park. The dirt was taken from Central Park to fill ravines throughout town.

  • 1861 - Union troops used Central Park as a training ground. Men and horses camped there in shacks, which were occupied by former slaves after the war.

  • 1875 - The bandstand was built in the center of the park. The city could not fund the project, so the band raised enough funds for it to be built.

  • 1876 - Hannibal held a centennial year celebration for the nation. Central Park housed an address by Col. William Henry Hatch and a performance that included a 100-voice choir.

  • 1878 - The city installed an iron fence at the cost of $1,400.

  • 1880 - The first stone fountain was put in Central Park, costing $350. The fountain was designed and built by August Delaporte, a stone mason who also did stonework on First Christian Church at Broadway and 11th St. The stones were fitted using no mortar. D.L. Stewart stocked the fountain with 125 large gold fish.

  • 1885 - Previously called the Bluff City Band, the First Regiment Band (later the Hannibal City Band) would give weekly concerts in the park. The group also greeted dignitaries, marched in parades, and entertained the crowds.

  • 1900 - Solomon Joseph, who was a Syrian immigrant, presented an American flag to be flown in Central Park daily. Whenever it would show wear and tear, he would replace it. Joseph operated the Hannibal Mercantile Company for 40 years.

  • 1903 - Henrietta Myers willed property across from Central Park to the city, to be used as City Hall. Henrietta and her husband came to Hannibal from Germany before the Civil War.

  • 1904 - The city covered the stone circular wall around the fountain with concrete.

  • 1905 - The first Chautauqua was held in Central Park. An adult education movement that was highly popular in rural communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day. It was a family event, both educational and cultural. Chautauquas were held in Central Park every couple of years. The earliest Chautauquas were held at Central Park with the tent pitched on Fifth Street. The walks of the park were brilliantly lighted. During the 1900-1909 decade, speakers included Samuel Gompers, William Jennings Bryan, Strickland Gillilan, Jane Adams of Hull House ,and H.L. Mencken.

  • 1914 - Every morning there was a civic flag ceremony at Central Park, which became important during times of war. The iron fence was taken down and used in a wartime scrap drive, as World War I begins.

  • 1914 - Commissioned in 1909, a statue of William Henry Hatch was erected in 1914. The statue was designed by Frederick Cleveland Hibbard. The bronze statue is on a granite base. Hatch was an eight-term U.S. representative from Missouri and was the namesake of the Hatch Act, which established state agricultural experiment stations for the land-grant colleges.

  • 1916 - The wooden bandstand near the fountain was torn down and replaced with one closer to Fourth Street.

  • 1920 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke in Central Park. He was running for vice president as the running mate of James M. Cox. Cox was defeated by Warren G. Harding.

  • 1921 - By the early 20th centural, society and business centered on Central Park, which housed the only benches where shoppers could rest and relieve tired feet. Dime stores and Central Park were a "must" on Saturday nights.

  • 1922 - The Veterans Auxiliary and American Legion Post 55 raised funds and installed a memorial rock for the men of Hannibal who gave their lives in the first World War.

  • 1923 - Fall Fiesta took place. The carnival rides were placed in Central Park, including a whip, merry-go-round, and Ferris wheel. The 1925 one-day fall festival featured a corn show in the park.

  • 1924 - Fredrick Hibbard, who made the statues of William Hatch in Central Park, Mark Twain in Riverview, and Tom and Huck at Cardiff Hill, spoke at a meeting of service clubs.

  • 1925 - The concrete bandstand with clay tiles was built on the Fourth Street side of the park.

  • 1933 - The stone honoring the first school was placed on the Fifth Street side of the park.

  • 1935 - The State Historical Society of Missouri erected two plaques honoring Robert E. Coontz and William H. Hatch.

  • 1956 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 2, 1945, and Mayor Schneider proclaimed April 14th as a day of mourning for Roosevelt. Services were held in Central Park.

  • 1961 - Hannibal had a very special dog named Grandpaw who died in March of 1961 and had the distinction of being buried in Central Park. He marched in every parade and showed up in many city functions and in various playgrounds. Grandpaw was about 20 years old when he died.

  • 1962 - On May 14, 1962, the War Memorial to soldiers of the First and Second World Wars was dedicated. It contains five bronze plaques with names of Hannibal service men of both wars. It was erected in Central Park through the efforts of the Service Mothers of World War II and the Emmette J. Shields Post 55, American Legion.

  • 1968 - Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, running for president, addressed a crowd of 3,000 in Central Park, flanked by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Wallace's main campaign issue was racial segregation; protesters representing both sides of the controversial topic were among those who attended the rally.

  • 1969 - Robert Usherwood took to a perch on April 1 to break a world record in flagpole-sitting atop a 40-foot tower in Central Park. On the 78th day of sitting, the record was claimed. To close the events, a time capsule was buried in Central Park to be opened on Hannibal’s 200th anniversary in 2019. Included in the capsule are: Tanya Sue King’s dress; tranquilizers from Scott’s Drug Store; letters; history books; Courier- Post sesquicentennial issue; radio tapes from KHMO and KGRC; names of 200 city employees; telegram from Congressman William Hungate; and 1894 from Kate Ray Kuhn; local church news; public library bulletin; literature from Levering Hospital and Ice House Theatre; dress worn by Mrs. Orville Fuqua at Molly Brown ball; road maps; scrapbook of clippings; and a message from Mayor Fred Herrin. The capsule was buried by Bob Bush, Gary Freeman, and Mayor Herrin.

  • 1972 - The F&M Bank established a Pet Show as part of National Tom Sawyer Days, bringing a wide variety of people and pets to Central Park, with hundreds of animals parading across the stage at the bandstand. The biggest category was dogs, but with a category of Most Unusual Pet, there have been rabbits, snakes, horses, frogs, chickens, cats, lizards, goats, sheep, monkeys, hermit crabs, and even a pet rock.

  • 1975 - The traditional big checker game was played in Central Park. The game between Gale Newman, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Henry Glascock drew a crowd.

  • 1975 - In Central Park, Elson Peter’s Marionettes, a puppet show, was presented, and John Turner, a local magician and hypnotist, gave a program. A musical concert was presented by Helen Cornelius and the Crossroads. Also on July 4, 1975, an arts and crafts show was staged in Central Park.

  • 1976 - The first arts and crafts festival, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, was held in Central Park as a one-day event.

  • 1987 - A plaque in recognition of the Hatch Act Centennial was placed on the Hatch Statue. The Hatch Act authorized experiment stations in each state associated with the land grant university. It was donated by the agricultural experiment station, the University of Missouri and the Missouri State Historical Society

  • 1989 - The fountain became unattractive due to weathering and aging. The Kiwanis Club of Hannibal completely refurbished it.

  • 1995 - Farmers’ Market began in Central Park on Saturdays. Vendors sold their homegrown produce from booths on the west side of the park. The Farmers’ Market relocated downtown for a few years but came back to Central Park in 2015, operating Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons in the summer.

  • 1998 - The sidewalks were replaced at Central Park.

  • 2010 - Tiles on the bandstand were replaced and bathrooms installed.

  • 2018 - 17 trees were planted in Central to celebrate Arbor Day. Fourth-graders from Holy Family and Eugene Field schools helped plant the trees, sponsored by the Tree Board.

Riverview Park: A History

 
  • 1908 - Following the 20th century, it seemed as if the Industrial Revolution was overtaking the beauty of the landscape in and around Hannibal. Lumber magnate and philanthropist Wilson B. (“W.B.”) Pettibone and his wife Laura noticed this trend and began purchasing farmland just beyond the northern edge of the city limits, envisioning a magnificent park on the limestone bluffs above the river.

  • 1909 - W.B. formally presented Riverview Park to the City of Hannibal. His gifts included the park and generous funds, which provided an annual income to pay for maintenance and improvement of the park moving forward. W.B. hired world-renowned landscape architect O.C. Simonds to plan the design. An Englishman, Simonds designed all the roads to turn left. Construction began, and Hannibal’s first oil road was laid in Riverview, creating dust-free roads. Trees and shrubs were quickly planted before the first frost, and cement steps from River Road to the top of tunnel hill were built to provide an entrance just for pedestrians.

  • 1911 - Funds were approved by the state to place a statue commemorating Mark Twain in the park, but due to indecision the funds expired and were lost.

  • 1913 - Legislature again approved $10,000 for a monument, and a statue was made by Frederick Hibbard and placed on the edge of a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi. From this place many of the scenes from the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, such as Tom Sawyer’s Island and Mark Twain’s cave, could be seen.

  • 1917 - W.B. purchased 10 acres south of the reservoir to add to the park.

  • 1923 - The Lions Club held their first Easter Egg hunt in Riverview Park, hiding 3,300 eggs.

  • 1924 - The Lions Club’s Easter Egg hunt attracted 10,000 people, and 25,000 eggs were colored and hidden.

  • 1924 - W.B. added 24 acres of land to the park.

  • 1924 - Due to the rising popularity of the park, Harrison Hill and Mark Twain Avenue were paved.

  • 1925 - President Calvin Coolidge sent eggs for the Lion Club’s Easter Egg hunt. Over 22,000 people arrived to watch the festivities, and Fox News filmed the event. Live rabbits were given as gifts.

  • 1926 - W.B., being a modest man who avoided publicity, repeatedly declined a memorial for himself from the city. He finally accepted a natural piece of granite from his favorite place, Vermont, with a plaque that reads “Riverview Park, a gift from Wilson B. Pettibone to the city of Hannibal, whose grateful citizens have placed this tablet here. 1926.”

  • 1928 - W.B. added 42 acres, the final park totaling an expansive 465 acres.

  • 1934 - In the summer, during intense periods of heat, many families laid blankets down and slept in the park to seek relief from the heat.

  • 1939 - During World War II, sunrise services were held in Riverview Park each Easter.

  • 1941 - The park was used for training men for the war. Men of Company D practiced maneuvers and exercises in mapping and studying of terrain in the expansive woods of the park.

  • 1946 - W.B. Pettibone died, leaving a $200,000 trust fund to maintain the park’s beauty.

  • 1980 - Riverview Park became the responsibility of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department under the agreement that the park would continue to operate by the rules established by Pettibone.

  • 1987 - Early Bird Kiwanis Club takes over the Easter Egg hunt, which thrills Hannibal children with big and small prizes. (The hunt later moves to the Hannibal-LaGrange College camps in 1998.)

  • 2005 - Wells Pettibone, the great-great nephew of W.B. and a member of the Park Board at this time, contacted the National Historic Register and succeeded in placing Riverview Park on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • 2007 - The National Register featured Riverview Park on its website, stating that “W.B. Pettibone’s 1909 deed of gift created legal safeguards that the park would remain in its natural appearance. It insured that the park would remain under the control of a board of nine local residents. The original park contained 240 acres, but Pettibone purchased additional land to increase its acreage to 465.”

  • 2008 - The Missouri Department of Conservation funded the removal of 17 hazardous trees. A piece of Riverview Park history was lost when the original stair entrance to Riverview Park was deemed unsafe and closed off after nearly 100 years of use. River Road Trail was expanded 1,000 feet with the Parks & Recreation Department’s goal to establish a safe connected trail system around the city.

  • 2009 - The park celebrated its Centennial with guest speakers Wells Pettibone, Mark Twain (Jim Waddell), David Bleigh (president of the Park Board), and Chris Atkinson (Park Director at the time). The Pettibone family was gifted with a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives. The community celebrated this event with games and a walk through the park, including the newly completed Soap Hollow Trail. This trail created a link between the park and downtown Hannibal for pedestrians and cyclists.2011 - The park bathroom burned down in a vandalism incident. The cause was never found, but it was determined that someone lit a fire in a bathroom trash can.

  • 2012 - A new bathroom was built in replacement of the old bathroom. It was built with concrete and steel in an effort to protect the building from another incident. The first nature walk was successfully held in Riverview Park, and many more were planned after.

  • 2013 - Hannibal celebrated the centennial for the Mark Twain statue. Speakers included Mayor Roy Hark, Wells Pettibone, and Parks Director Andrew Dorian with guest appearances from Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Over 60 students and adults came together this year to clean up sticks and debris following a major storm that covered the roads and trails with fallen trees, rocks, and mud.

  • 2015 - Riverview Park land was increased by half an acre when City Council approved the purchase of the lot adjacent to Ziegler Street. The lot cost only $1.

  • 2016 - Cyclists participating in the statewide Bicycle Across Missouri (BAM) rode through Marion County, up Palmyra Road and through Riverview, exiting the park from the Soap Hollow Trail. Riverview is often used for 5K runs, the vehicular path almost exactly making a 3-mile distance.

  • 2016 - The Rotary Club donated and installed a special swing at the playground. “The Expression Swing” promotes interactive play and allows adults and children to swing face to face.

  • 2018 - In most recent years natural activities such as hiking and sightseeing have been frequently held, and the park has often been known for significant moments such as proposals, weddings, parties, and pictures, due to its beautiful scenery. Riverview is also known for its significant black squirrel population. Because of its expansive woods and natural resources, black squirrels rehabilitated in the St. Louis area are transported and released in Hannibal’s own Riverview Park.

Admiral Coontz Armory: A History

 
  • 1935 - President Franklin Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration to counter the devastating effects of the Great Depression. The WPA constructed public buildings, roads, recreational areas and other infrastructure to give work to the legions of unemployed blue-collar workers who lost their jobs in the wake of the stock market crash. After a devastating fire destroyed the original baseball field and grandstand in 1936, the city used a $40,000 WPA grant, local labor and locally quarried stone to rebuild Clemens Field.  After the limestone wall was built, local and WPA officials decided to use the limestone quarry to build an armory on the site where the burned-down grandstand once stood.

  • 1938 - Construction begins. Few of the 130 men knew how to work stone, therefore the project took a long time. Because part of the reason for the construction project was to put men to work, each person worked only three days a week to spread the work around. Laborers were paid 30 cents an hour. The total cost of the armory was $175,000; federal government paid $137,000; state, $8,000; city, $30,000.

  • 1939 - The building was dedicated on Nov. 5 with a military escort to the armory, attended by Gov. Lloyd C. Stark. There was a Dedication Ball at the Mark Twain Hotel, with music was by Harry James and Jack Palmer, and a relatively unknown 23-year-old singer, Frank Sinatra.

  • 1941 - Even before the U.S. was involved in World War II, members of the National Guard trained at the armory. Some guards stayed at the armory to keep the equipment safe, while many left Hannibal as they were called or enlisted. Hannibal life changed during the war, as residents took part in scrap drives and rationing programs and manufacturers retooled their plants to produce war goods.

  • 1951 - After the war, many products were still scarce due to restrictions. Hannibal industries converted to peacetime manufacturing and on April 27, displayed their products at a big exhibition. More than 3,000 people attended.

  • 1958 - The Missouri Hotel Association conference was held in the armory. Fall festivals were also held in the armory and in tents surrounding the building, along with Garden Club displays, cattle shows, horse shows, swine shows, dancing exhibitions, band concerts and square dancing.

  • 1963 - Many Hannibal citizens did not take advantage of the polio vaccine until the discovery of an oral vaccine. This vaccine was administered in sugar cubes three different dates in the armory, with the help of 600 volunteers.

  • 1965 - Ike and Tina performed with the Revue to the Admiral Coontz Armory, followed by a local band called Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

  • 1974 - A group of musicians call the Uptown Strings start having Senior Dances every Wednesday, sometimes up to 100 in attendance. Betty Parsons Miller was still leading the band in 2019.

  • 1977 - The new armory at Huckleberry Park opens, housing the 2175th Military Police Company. The old armory will still be used for city functions.

  • 1980 - The First Halloween party sponsored by Hannibal Police Department, combating a growing concern about the safety of trick-or-treating. Thousands of children attend over the years.

  • 1984 - Golden Eagle host first Chili Cookoff, bringing thousands to the facility over the years.

  • 2010 - The building was extensively renovated, installing a new roof and restrooms and updating the heating, lighting and electrical systems at a cost $100,000; it was the same year that smoking was banned in the building, the city of Hannibal banned smoking citywide two years later.

  • 2012 - More than 100 parking spots were added when the lot next to armory was purchased for $48,000

  • 2014 - After requests and donations from several groups supporting special needs individuals, the Play Without Boundaries Sensory Room is opened. Equipment and games are available to people of all abilities.