=History and Art at "Cookie Heights" Parson Street=(1926)
Saturday, July 10
Independence Park Charlotte
'The earliest recreation area owned by the City of Charlotte was Independence Park, located just east of Sugar Creek between Elizabeth Avenue and Monroe Road. Fortunately, the city authorities decided to seek professional help in planning the park. They retained a talented, young landscape architect, John Nolen, who was later to achieve renown for his work on Myers Park. Nolen's 1905 design was obviously intended to preserve and enhance the existing features of the lake valley. The quiet informality of his plan retained the rural setting and established a lasting natural landscape. At the eastern end of the park land, where it straddles the earth bridge of Hawthorne Lane, the half mile long, tree shaded valley remains much as it has been for three quarters of a century. Nolen made generous use of planting, and many of the trees he started have matured into magnificent old oaks, poplars and maples interspersed later with flowering shrubs. Footpaths wander through the park, and occasional old granite benches in small, grassy nooks offer havens from the bustle of nearby city streets. In its early years, the lake, and later the park, was bordered by a shoreline road.
This road, now called Park Drive, was paved in the 1920's when many of the dirt streets in Elizabeth were improved. Vertical slabs of Mecklenburg granite bordered most early paved streets. This stone curbing has been replaced with concrete in most city streets; however, portions of Park Drive still retain the picturesque old granite curbing. At the eastern-end, the park is circled by cottages built during the early years of this century. The architectural style is typical of the times and adds much to the charm of the park setting. For its first twenty five years, Independence Park was a rural sanctuary -- a place to rest beside a spring fed brook. As the neighborhood grew, however, playground facilities were added. A grammar school was placed on the side near Elizabeth Avenue. Tennis courts were built on the opposite hillside, and a portion of the valley was filled to create baseball and football fields.'