Celebrating 90 Years

All, Great Parks History

2020 is a big year: It’s the start of a new decade, the Olympics are in Tokyo this summer and there is always something going on at a park.

2019 saw many ideas become reality at Great Parks. Our newest nature center located in Roselawn, Nature Center at The Summit, opened in the fall. We hosted public input meetings for the Sharon Lake Improvement Project. This new year also means Great Parks has been serving Hamilton County residents for 90 years.

Pavilion Grove Shelter at Sharon Woods was built in the spring of 1933 and still stands today. It is the first and oldest park structure within Great Parks.
Now called Pavilion Grove Shelter, this shelter was built to accommodate picnickers who came to Sharon Woods on nearly a year-round basis. Built in 1933, Pavilion Grove Shelter was the first structure built in Great Parks.

That’s right, 2020 marks Great Parks’ 90th birthday. There have been a few name changes, a multitude of picnics in parks and countless nature education programs, but from day one, our guiding principles focused on preservation and conservation. These were considered forward-thinking in 1930, but are no-brainers in the 21st century. We continue to put natural resources, nature education and outdoor recreation first.

We’re celebrating our 90th birthday in a not-so-traditional way. Each month, we’ll be delving more into the history of the park district, including parks and preserves and fun facts about what makes Great Parks, well, great!

Park guests gather in a snow-covered Pavilion Grove Shelter after a long hike in January 2019.
Pavilion Grove Shelter still stands today and is quite a popular place to host events. Here, guests gather in the shelter for a hearty bowl of soup after the Annual Winter Hike Series in 2019.

That’s where you come in. Do you remember when artist John Ruthven created his piece “The Future’s In Your Hands” for the park district? Were you the first Katniss Everdeen back in the day at the Winton Woods archery range? Can you recall when Fernbank Park used to be the site of Dam 37? You may even remember beloved Great Parks’ mascot, Parky’s glow-up. Whether these all ring a bell or you have a different memory, we want to hear from you. You are as much of a part of Great Parks’ history as the park district itself.

After a long hike, guests gather at Pavilion Grove Shelter in Sharon Woods for a hearty bowl of soup.
Another view of Pavilion Grove Shelter.

Share your Great Parks story with us. We may feature your submission in future blog or social media posts! Send us your story via email.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you and your memories of Great Parks!


Caroline Wiita
Content Marketing Coordinator