A Black Pennsylvania amusement park that was constructed during the era of racial segregation was recently added to the National Historic Registry.

According to the Associated Press, Fairview Park in Delmont, Pa. was given the designation and was named an historical landmark by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

“Places like Fairmont Park are important to us, not only because they can be placed within a prideful history of ownership and self determination of African Americans, but also because they can be reborn in new ways, limited only be the extent of our imaginations,” Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, executive director of the Historic Hill Institute in Pennsylvania told the AFRO in a recent interview.

Fairview Park was originally constructed in the 1940s by a group of Black churches in the Pittsburgh area who wanted to create a park for African-Americans who were excluded from other White-owned parks nearby, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In its heyday, Blacks would visit the park to go swimming, skate, play softball and sample amusement rides.

“There was no. opportunity to go somewhere you felt welcome,” Harvey Moore, a former Fairview Park employee, told the Post-Gazette. “It was a place that belonged to you. You weren’t having to seek permission to be there.”

As race barriers fell at White venues, Blacks more often frequented other parks.

Today, the swimming pool is gone and only a few pieces of playground equipment remain.

Now the nonprofit Fairview Park Association is aiming to revamp the land with a million-dollar expansion plan. But financing the project is a major concern, as the group relies only on donations it receives from various churches in the community.

Still, all is not lost for the park, as its recent inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places could potentially increase commercial interest.

“Obtaining National Historic Status assists with community development because they can now offer tax credits that will attract more developers and is a prominent advertisement for tourism, which will further aid the park in becoming a sustainable property,” Ellis said. “Because Delmont decided to mark a place and space that was special to them and teach us why it’s important for us, we now have a renewed interest in its future and can assist the owners in accomplishing and re-imagining their goals.”

 

Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor