It was an exciting Saturday morning on the north side of Crawfordsville as the community gathered to dedicate the recently renovated Frances Wooden Park. Through funding from the Montgomery County Community Foundation (MCCF) and the City of Crawfordsville, the park underwent a major overhaul during the summer.
Crawfordsville Parks and Recreation Director Fawn Johnson welcomed the crowd and shared a few words about Frances Wooden. Wooden was Director of the Northside Rec Center for over 35 years and known as an advocate for neighborhood children. The park was built where the rec center once stood and named in her honor.
Mayor Todd Barton explained the significance of the park’s location before it became the Northside Rec Center, which sits adjacent to Bethel AME Church and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Newly installed benches act as a historical timeline, with notable dates and facts etched into the bases. Play structures, a shelter, and interactive musical pieces are just a few of the many other improvements made during the renovation.
He then thanked HWC Engineering who designed the park, and Spencer Construction Company, who built the park. “HWC Engineering was tasked with making this a fun space for children while also honoring the history of this location and did a great job.” New play equipment, a shelter, and interactive musical pieces are just a few of the many improvements made during the renovation.
Kelly Taylor, MCCF CEO, shared how this project is fitting of the Foundation’s mission of “Building Bridges to Support the Future of Montgomery County,” by connecting donors’ philanthropic goals with needs for the benefit of the community. With a gift to MCCF in 2021, a private donor helped renovate the Kathy Steele Park. “Because of the great success of that park, the donor decided to keep going and we focused our sights on the Frances Wooden Park,” Taylor shared.
Bethel AME Church Historian Vicke Hudson-Swisher, echoed the sentiments of the day at the end of the dedication. “I grew up on the north side and spent much of my childhood at the rec center with Frances. To see the improvements made here is wonderful for this neighborhood.”