Riverside Park – North

October 13, 2020

#112 Riverside Park – North – 1029 N Bitting

Background: This park lies along the banks of the Little Arkansas River and its main feature is Park Villa, a stone and tile-roofed structure surrounded by a large porch. It was designed by Laura Buckwalter in 1912. She used paving stones from the street car tracks and inmates from the jail to build the now iconic structure.

KMUW had an interesting story about Buckwalter and the building of Park Villa. Check it out

Comfort Station: (restroom) L.W. Clapp designed the Art Deco “Comfort Station” in North Riverside Park which was built in 1933.

Fresh Air Baby Camp/Little House: The building was constructed in 1920 as a Fresh Air Baby Camp which used fresh air and sanitation as a way to take care of at-risk infants. A tent facility was created in 1918 but burned down in 1920. At that time, a group of women in the community organized fund-raising efforts for a new, permanent building. This building is a last survivor of a unique and historic national health program and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. It served that purpose until 1926, when the program was moved to the new Wesley hospital. For the next 75 years it served as the Girl Scouts’ “Little House” until 2001. Since then, a non-profit group has refurbished the house which is now available for small events. We stopped by shortly before a wedding party started. The bride’s parents were kind enough to let us go inside and take a few pics.

What we did: I was excited to return to this park. Since my mother was a girl scout leader, I got dragged to Little House every year. I remember the giant’s bathtub and walking in the park. As a kid, it seemed big and it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. Kids are so dumb. I also remember very vividly sticking a plastic string from my “sit-upon” into the electrical outlet. I also remember that was the last time I was allowed at camp

Heading to the central, and probably the most popular piece of Riverside Park.

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