A walk in the park

New paved path through Wilson Brewer Park offers a shady stroll and lots of history

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Anne Blankenship A new paved walkway winds its way through Wilson Brewer Park, under the cover of shade trees and around all of the historic buildings on the grounds of the park. The sidewalk is part of many improvements under way at the park located at the intersection of Superior and Ohio streets.

There’s a new paved walking path in Webster City that will give walkers a shady stroll through the community’s history.

The new walking path through Wilson Brewer Park, located at the corner of Superior and Ohio streets, was recently completed. The path and landscaping around the park were part of a larger improvement project.

The park is home to the Depot Museum, two log cabins, the Harmony Center School House, the Mulberry Center Church, the county’s first courthouse and of course, the Illinois Central caboose, installed at the park in April.

The Wilson Brewer Park committee has been working for the past few years to improve the park and its historic buildings and artifacts.

The first big project involved refurbishing the two log cabins in the park. The cabins were dismantled from top to bottom. The logs were removed and repaired, then were returned to the park, and placed on new foundations. Gary Groves, a member of the Wilson Brewer Park Committee, said that project is also nearly complete.

The newly restored log cabins are nearly finished, according to officials. The few finishing touches are expected to be made yet this fall. Heritage Woodworks of Clemens dismantled the cabins, made repairs and reassembled the structures on new foundations in the park.

“There’s about a week’s worth of work left to do inside the cabins,” he said, adding that Heritage Woodworks of Clemons will be back to finish the job this fall.

“That will be great to have the cabins done,” he said.

Members of the committee are working to develop plans for the courthouse and the Depot museum.

“Our design committee is working on the plans for the old courthouse,” he said. An intern from the University of Northern Iowa will be helping with some historical research for the courthouse.

Groves said he hopes the design for improvements at the courthouse can be approved by the committee soon and ultimately, the city, so that work can begin next year.

A bench given in memory of the late Kent Harfst by his family has been placed at the entrance to Wilson Brewer Park.

Perhaps the largest project will be the Depot Museum. Another group is working on the design for the depot, he said.

“We’re probably two years out on that project,” he said. “That’s a major renovation. So, we’re going to need more funds and more public input on how we want to present the Depot as a museum to the community.”

But for now, Groves said he’s pleased the sidewalks and landscaping project is nearly complete.

The park has already attracted walkers and curious residents who have tried out the new sidewalk that winds around the buildings in the park.

“I’ve been really pleased with the activity down there,” Groves said. “I drove by today and there were two or three people walking around and a couple sitting on the benches.”

There are 15 benches around the park that have been donated by local families, organizations and individuals. Groves said there were four bench spots are available if anyone would like to purchase one.

One of the first benches walkers will encounter is one dedicated to the memory of the late Kent Harfst, Webster City’s longtime director of recreation and public grounds. The bench was donated by his wife, Becky and children Brady, Hannah and Max. The bench features Harfst’s signature motto, “Help Make it a Great Day.”

“That’s really a special tribute,” Groves said.


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