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Atwood History

Henry Carter, a Dort Motor Car factory inspector, walked by a gravel pit full of trash on Third Avenue everyday on his way to work saw possibilities. With the help of Ray A. Brownell, who later became mayor of Flint, and Daniel A. Reed, manager of the Board (Chamber) of Commerce, enthusiasm for a project to build the larges stadium west of Harvard University was raised. The stadium would cost $115,000 and seat 15,000. In the wartime atmosphere of 1917, the State of Michigan appropriated $60,000 to build an armory on one corner to the sight. Local merchants and businessmen pledged donations and Common Council planned a bo
nd proposal. Charles S. Mott was the finance chairman of the stadium committee.

On Saturday, June 16, 1917, 5,000 men, with picks and shovels and horses and wagons, paraded to the stadium site for two hour shifts. Bands played. Speeches were made, Ceremonial shovels spaded dirt. While the event was filmed, more than100 loads of tin cans and other debris were removed and thousands of cubic yards of soil and gravel were reshaped by nightfall.

Unfortunately, the State built its armory on Lewis Street (currently Chavez) and the charter amendment to allow the bond proposal failed. The stadium dream stood abandon for more than a decade.

By the mid 1920’s things were looking better and in 1927 the river channel was filled in (partly with trash donated by the community) connecting the stadium site with Atwood Island. Atwood Island in the Flint River was donated to the city by Edwin W, Atwood, whose pioneer father, William A. Atwood ran a sawmill on the island from 1866 to 1883 as well a being Flint’s mayor in 1882. The city sold Athletic Park- then on the north side of the present UM-Flint site to the Industrial Mutual Association for $100,000, roughly enough to build the stadium. Construction began in the Fall of 1928 and was almost completed by the following Spring.

The new stadium was dedicated on Saturday, June 8, 1929 with a civic Pageant of Progress depicting the history of Flint with songs and dances, and skits and costumes. Presiding as queen of the pageant was Miss Helen Atwood, daughter of Edwin A. Atwood, donor of the site and Granddaughter of William A. Atwood, for whom the park was named. When escorted to the podium, Miss Atwood broke a bottle of Flint River water and gave the deeds to the park to the City's current Mayor Brownell.


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