Photo provided by the St. Clair Shores Historical Commission


Looking Back: Memorial Park in St. Clair Shores

St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 10, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — What is now Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave., in St. Clair Shores, opened to the public on Aug. 24, 1945, as Memorial Park. The Women’s Civic League of St. Clair Shores was instrumental in the establishment of the park, but the space as a place of leisure and enjoyment of the outdoors had started decades before.

By 1920, the Masons (a fraternal order) had an 18-hole golf course on the south side of Masonic Boulevard, between Gratiot Avenue and Lake St. Clair. On Sept. 21, 1921, the cornerstone of an impressive country club was laid at Masonic and Jefferson. The 18,729-square-foot clubhouse was opened May 11, 1923, and featured a dining room that could seat almost 400 people. Outdoor facilities included tennis courts, swimming facilities, a quarter-mile track and the chance to ride horses. Skating, ice-boating and hockey were featured winter pastimes. There was also a quarter mile long boat dock, a water slide, an outdoor screened-in dance pavilion and a grandstand with seating for 800. There were baseball diamonds on the grounds and a petting zoo was added for children at a later date. In 1926, a second 18-hole golf course was begun on the north side of Masonic Boulevard. This course opened in August 1929.

In 1927, the club’s name changed to the Lakeshore Country Club. But by 1929, damage from storms to the property and the stock market crash had badly damaged both the club’s finances and membership as well as the grounds. The Club dissolved in 1932. By 1942, after other sale attempts, the Village of St. Clair Shores received the land in lieu of back taxes. In 1944, the club building was damaged by fire and torn down. Both golf courses continued to operate until 1945. The south course was allowed to go to seed and Masonic Heights Elementary School was built on the property.

After much public discussion, the Women’s Civic League championed the idea of a park to honor those who had lost their lives in World War II and the grounds of the former club were reconfigured as a public space. This photo shows the entrance to the park in 1978.

To view this image and other historic photographs, please visit the Digital Media Archive at www.scslibrary.org.

— Submitted by Heidi Christein, archivist, St. Clair Shores Public Library

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