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As early as 1910 it was generally acknowledged that what this progressive town needed most was a new park for the health and
happiness of her citizens.  Nine years and four trips to the ballot box later, warring factions seemed hopelessly deadlocked on where
to put the “new” park.
HermanADickel-219x253One faction headed by the Chamber of Commerce wanted to purchase land around the public
library (today’s museum) for a new city hall and public park.  They felt this location would
enhance the new brick commercial district.  The other faction wanted a new park that was more
than “landscaping” for the central business district.  The latter group won out and on
September 20, 1920, the city trustees approved purchase of Herman A. Dickel’s 19 acre ranch
(for the grand sum of $875) at the southwest corner of Lemon and Sycamore Streets.  A broad
trunk palm tree still on the park grounds near the northwest corner of Lemon and Cypress
once stood in the front yard of the Dickel home.

 

Mayor William Stark publicly congratulated Mr. Dickel for voluntarily selling at a reasonable            Herman A. Dickel
price. The citizens voted overwhelming approval of a $100,000 bond to purchase the property
and begin improvements.  Florence Yoch, noted landscape architect of the Henry Huntington
estate in San Marine was engaged to plan the new park.  Mrs. Yoch recommended a young
Rudolph Boysen to supervise installation and maintenance.  Mr. “B” stayed on for more than
38 Years and developed the “Boysenberry” in his spare time.
Pearson-198x187Each year between 1921 and 1929 a new garden or structure was added to the park.  The Greek
Theater, water garden, cactus garden, plunge and bathhouse (demolished), and baseball stadium
(restored) were part of a building boom stopped only by the Depression.  Originally named City
Park, it was renamed to Pearson Park in 1960 to honor Anaheim’s longtime mayor, Charles A.
Pearson.  The present day park maintenance buildings were originally part of Boysen’s greenhouse.
He not only maintained the park grounds but grew all the flowers as well. As you stroll through the
park, note the statue of actress Helena Modjeska depicted in her most famous role.

Mayor Charles A. Pearson
with Jack Bennypearsonpkgreetings

GREEK THEATER
In 1922, the Anaheim City Council adopted plans for a 20 acre City park which was completed and dedicated on July 15, 1927.
M. Eugene Durfee was the architect for this beautiful open air auditorium known as the Greek Theater.
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CACTUS GARDEN
Rudy Boysen, first Anaheim Park Superintendent, planted the cactus garden in 1921. Many of the cacti came from Mr. Boysen’s
many trips into the California desert.  Mr. Boysen is also credited with the discovery of the boysenberry, which made Walter Knott
very famous.
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BALLPARK GRANDSTANDS
The Orange trees were removed and in 1927 this “up to date” baseball diamond and grandstand, with a seating capacity of 750
persons, was installed.
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MADAME HELENA MODJESKA
Helena Modjeska, renowned Polish dramatic actress, came with other Polish friends to live in Anaheim in 1876.  This beautiful
statue was sculpted by Eugen Maier-Krieg and erected in September 1935.  The statue depicts Madame Modjeska in the role of
Mary Queen of Scots.
In July, 1876, Count Chapowski (who wrote ‘ORSO’, a book about the love between a circus strong man and a lady acrobat, with the
plot laid out in Anaheim) and Madame Helena Modjeska, along with their son Rudolph, sailed to the United States.  The Count had
previously been in Anaheim and convinced his wife and thirty Polish intellectuals to begin their life anew.
Anaheim was a town in which German, Spanish, English and Chinese were spoken.  The group of Polish intellectuals spoke enough
German to converse. Unfortunately, these newcomers’ talents were not in farming.  They soon found excuses not to do their daily
chores.  Modjeska admitted “we all came to the conclusion that our farming was not a success.  Everything seemed a sad failure”.
Local residents tried to help, with one Anaheim family being the most friendly… August and Clementina (Schmidt) Langenberger.
Mrs. Modjeska, having retired from her illustrious stage career in Europe, found that she was an “impoverished, Polish exile”.  She
realized that agriculture was not the answer to her financial future…so she came up with another plan to enable her to remain in the
United States.
Acting was what she did best.  She traveled to San Francisco and made her first stage appearance 6 months later.  She went on to a
stage career in the United States that would span two decades.
Even though she moved to Santiago Canyon and built a home that was designed by Stanford White, she frequently visited her friends
in Anaheim.  Clemintina remained a friend until Modjeska’s death in 1909.  Modjeska loved her home, and its surrounding 12,000
acres, calling it “Arden”
.