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 Kingston Public Library

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               6 Green Street, Kingston Massachusetts 02364          781-585-0517
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Local History
Building the Playground Bailey family The Playground today
Before 1923, there was no playground in Kingston. In fact, there was no field for school sports, no diamond for the Town baseball team, no public area dedicated to recreation. Then a group of volunteers stepped forward to remedy the situation.

As early as 1885, settlement houses and civic groups in Boston, New York and Chicago began to provide "sand gardens" -- basically a load of sand dumped in a vacant lot or schoolyard -- where inner-city children could play and learn under the watchful eye of social reformers and moral educators. By the 1920s, the playground movement had spread. Cities and towns across the country were building and operating small parks and sports facilities that allowed the community to enjoy and benefit from exercise.

In Kingston, however, despite high school athletics, baseball games and track and field competitions at events like Old Home Day, there was no dedicated place for community recreation. Private owners sometimes allowed use of their land, but it was subject to their whim.

Before the Playground

The Frog Pond
A Special Town Meeting on July 24, 1922, authorized Kingston's Selectmen to acquire by purchase or eminent domain about nine acres of land for a Community Playground, with no more than $1500 to be borrowed. Any donations would be used for improvement and maintenance. Captain Fred L. Bailey was appointed to head a committee of seven and the work began.

On August 25, 1923 -- the date of the first "Town Fair held for the benefit of the Kingston Playground -- a flag raising ceremony was held. Construction had begun on the nine acre site, five of which had been donated by Dr. and Mrs. Archer O’Reilly. Captain Bailey noted in the Fair program that an area large enough for the baseball diamond had been graded and that volunteers had moved between ten and twelve thousand yards of material to level the fields and fill in the spring-fed "Frog Pond. (In the 1930s, two Federal Civil Works Administration projects improved the drainage of the Playground; the fill had settled so much that the lower end of the field sometimes had a foot of standing water.) Though Alexander Holmes lent his motorized tractor and the Wareham cranberry grower Makepeace gave use of movable track and bog cars, much of the work was manual and most of the earth removal was animal-powered.

Building the playground



A community at work


One of the Town Fairs
Two more annual Fairs raised additional Playground funds and in 1924, the Town Treasurer paid out $1505 to the Playground Committee. On June 27, 1926, Captain Bailey presented Kingston with a new Playground, which immediately served as the site for the Town’s 200th Anniversary ceremonies. The celebration also saw a second gift to the Town: the Reed Community Building, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Reed of Worcester, whose ancestors lived in Kingston.

With the recreational facilities of the Reed Building and the Bailey Playground available Kingston schools began a physical education program. High school teams practiced and played here until 1955, when Silver Lake High School opened. Since then, Kingstonians of all ages have used the Bailey Playground for grown-up baseball and Little League, with soccer fast becoming the most popular sport.
Building the Playground Bailey family The Playground today
© All rights reserved. Town of Kingston, Kingston Public Library. For more information please write to Kingston Public Library, 6 Green Street, Kingston Massachusetts 02364 or email the Library Director at sstewart@kingstonpubliclibrary.org. For suggestions on how we can improve our services, please email kilib@kingstonpubliclibrary.org. The Kingston Public Library is a member of the Old Colony Library Network.