Friends of Garfiled Park

Destination: The Pagoda

Hello there…
Destination:The Pagoda:The Place Where Lives Were Changed.
Have you been to the Pagoda in the Park? If not, I highly recommend it.

In 1903 our Pagoda in the Park story began with the inspired creativity of Daniel Deupree. The initial scope was rather mundane compared to the finished work. You see, the job was to replace a wooden structure that had burned down, earlier that same year. They asked Mr. Deupree to build a shelter that could also serve as a bandstand.
Hmm…shelter, bandstand…?

Maybe it was the site that inspired him. It is the highest point in the Park.
Calls for a bit of majesty, wouldn’t you say?
So, Daniel Deupree went to his drawing board and from there, came one of the Park’s oldest icons, the Pagoda. Yes, every square foot—all 3,600 of them! 

The Asian character is there in the unfettered curves, the iron and stone, and a touch of drama—the upstairs promontory! Quite the view back in the day.

What a stage he built—an open invitation for all to dress-up, show-up, andbe the Party!

One of the best characteristics of an actual Asian pagoda is, as they say, to bring benefit. You know, spark goodness, bring joy. Without a doubt that is what our Pagoda has contributed in the lives of our friends and visitors across many generations.

This structure has been a part of life moments and lived through the many historic happenings of this Community: the picnics and dances with first kisses and first loves; families growing and sharing; the weddings with joy of new beginnings; graduations, the doorways to life-as-you-make-it, and so much more. These stories of our Park Community have been indelibly inscribed here. We know it. We have proof.

The Park and the Pagoda went through the First World War, the Great Depression, World War II, tornadoes, blizzards, economic downturns, onset of old-age and worn out parts, patches here and there, and ultimately to “No Trespassing,” due to safety concerns. It was then…that it happened. In 1977 a rumor started that the Pagoda was to be demolished.The unofficial Mayor of Garfield Park, Margie Nackenhorst and her husband, John, were not going to let that happen. After all, their first date was in Garfield Park!

Margie and John Nackenhorst were not only defending the Park, they were defending their heritage. The architect who designed the Pagoda, Daniel Deupree, was former Commissioner of Indy Parks Department and John’s grandfather. They stood up, brought the Community together, and raised the money to fund the renovation needed. The Friends of Garfield Park and the Community continue to, not only care for the Park, but ensure that it thrives.

We will revisit the life and legacy of Margie Nackenhorst again as we work our way through the Park’s history. She worked nearly her entire life for the Park and the Community. Truly, a Difference-Maker.
Margie died in March of 2014 at the age of 94. She will forever be missed.

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