#93 Naftzger Memorial Park – 101 S St. Francis
Background: The park was built and named M.C. Naftzger Memorial Park in 1977. Maurice Clifford Naftzger’s father, Levi Naftzger was President of the Fourth National Bank and helped organize Southwest National Bank in 1915. When Levi died in 1933, M.C. became President of Southwest National Bank. M.C. died in 1972.
Before it was a park, it was home to the Magic Theater/Vortex Art Gallery, which hosted the famous poet Allen Ginsberg. This visit inspired the 1966 poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra.” The controversial anti-war poem was first performed at the WSU Student Union Ballroom. Here is a link to the poem: https://genius.com/Allen-ginsberg-wichita-vortex-sutra-3…
What we did: Saturday was a beautiful day and it was nice to see people spending time in our parks. The park is not completely finished but the dog park and lawns are ready to go. It’s part AstroTurf and part real grass. There is a stage and a jumbotron television at the park, along with seating at tables, benches, and swivel chairs.
A poem outlines the park, but it is not the Ginsberg poem.
I kept my eyes open for the original monument to prohibitionist Carry A. Nation, which sat in the old park. It is on the park’s plan, probably just not installed yet.
The large white art piece is meant to resemble an airplane tail. There is a bubbling fountain in the sidewalk, but it was not running while we were there. To be honest, I always loved the old park. It was unfortunate that our city’s homeless population spent their days there, because I think it probably scared off the other folks.
Good news for those of us that liked the old park, the original gazebo stands proudly at O.J. Watson Park now.