RUMFORD — The Strathglass Park Preservation Society will host a public forum from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Rumford Public Library to discuss the potential for further restoration of the park.
Society President Edward Paterson said Wednesday that the society was formed in 2008 by former members of the Strathglass Park Association.
“The Strathglass Park Association was a group of concerned people in the park who wished to improve the quality of the park,” he said. “They were like an ad-hoc neighborhood association trying to make improvements on the park.”
Paterson said the association became defunct due to “its leadership not being as strong as it could’ve been.
“Some of the members from the SPA branched off from and formed the Strathglass Park Preservation Society as a means to help raise funds for the projects the SPA wished to carry out,” he said. “Eventually, the SPA became defunct, but some of the members re-formed the Preservation Society to continue improvements on Strathglass Park.”
Among the improvements Paterson said the society wishes to pursue are fixing the rest of the wall from the gate on Maine Avenue to Hancock Street and beautifying the walls.
“I want to approach some of the homeowners about putting hedges in parts of their backyard, which would go towards the beautification of the park,” Paterson said.
He lauded Vice President Phil Blampied, who was “the catalyst who drove this group forward. He has a lot more insight and technical information about the fundraising aspect of the society,” Paterson said.
“We were granted 501(c)(3) status a few years ago, and ever since, Phil has led the efforts to raise funds to help improve the park,” he said.
Paterson said he lives in one of the Strathglass Park duplexes and still fondly remembers growing up in that area.
“I still remember when I delivered newspapers in that neighborhood,” he said. “You could walk through people’s backyards and talk to them about your day. It was a well-maintained community. We used to walk, sweep the sidewalks, sweep the roads, pick up junk and do things to help out the town. You don’t see that today.”
A meeting of the society, open to members only, will be held at 9 a.m. prior to the forum. Anyone interested in the restoration of Strathglass Park may join by paying the annual fee of $15 to: Strathglass Park Preservation Society, PO Box 65, Rumford, ME 04276.
History of Strathglass Park
Strathglass Park was one of the first planned communities in Maine.
It was built by entrepreneur Hugh J. Chisholm as laid out in his 1891 “Plan for Rumford Falls.” Around the turn of the 19th century, hundreds of immigrants were streaming into Rumford to work in the paper mills. Chisholm established the Rumford Real Estate Co. in 1901 in order to build housing for many of the employees.
In 1902, construction of Strathglass Park began. The park was named after Chisholm’s country estate in upstate New York and designed by New York City architect Cass Gilbert. Gilbert and Chisholm traveled to Scotland together and, following their visit, Gilbert designed 51 duplex houses, four single-family dwellings and nine apartment houses, all constructed of brick.
For many years, Strathglass Park was home to mill employees, many of whom were managers. However, following World War II, Strathglass Park began to fall into decline. Several factors can be attributed to this deterioration, including the sale of the Oxford Paper Mill in 1967 to the Ethyl Corporation. Prior to the sale, the Oxford Paper Mill paid for the Strathglass Park maintenance program. Today, with that subsidy long gone, the ornate brick facades and slate tiled roofs are in disrepair, and many original architectural features are missing.
— Strathglass Park Preservation Society