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Town of Normal celebrates Fell Park’s 125th anniversary

Written by on September 25, 2023

Photo provided by Normal Parks and Recreation Department

NORMAL, Ill. – The Town of Normal celebrated the 125th Anniversary of Fell Park on September 17th.  

Actor portrayals of Jesse and Hester Fell spoke on the history of Fell Park and how it came to belong to the city.  The mayor wrote a proclamation that was presented to the Fells.

Director of Parks and Recreation Doug Damery explained the event was well executed and had a good crowd. The celebration included a Blue Grass band playing, two bagpipers, a local cheerleading group, a kids zone and many other activities.  There was also a tree planting in honor of Fell as he was a known arborist, or caretaker of trees. 

Damery says, “We thought it would be a really nice representation for Parks and Recreation as well as the historical significance of that kind of tree too.”  

He elaborated on the park’s importance to the department.

Damry says, “Ultimately the park is representative of everything else we do as a Parks and Recreation Department.” 

125 years ago the park was first sold to the town of Normal by Hester Fell for $1 upon her husband’s death.  Prior to that, the grounds of the park had venues for open space including a corral for cattle and a dog pound.  It was also used for picnics and religious activities.

In 1898, the town of Normal realized they needed a water tower and that the property they wanted to build on was owned by Jesse Fell.  They went to Hester who then said they will give this land for $1 if they maintained the water tower and create an open park area for the rest of the space. Hester Fell and the town reached this agreement and the rest is history.