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East Genesee & Almond Streets
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In Forman Park is a monument and in bronze on it are the figures of the Joshua Forman and Lewis H. Redfield, and appropriate memorial when one reads the history of the park.
Theodore W. Clarke, civil engineer and life member of Onondaga Historical Association knows the history of the park, and he has given Historical Association and the Public Library a typewritten copy of an account given by his grandfather, William M. Clarke.
Histories tell that Forman Square, its first name, was declared to be a public park on June 16, 1839, by the Trustees of the village of Syracuse.
Redfield, a pioneer printer, who was born in 1836 and who dies in 1882, gave an account of the beginning of the park, his story told in 1880, two years before he died. That is in a scrapbook in the Historical Association Library. Redfield said that the time the park was laid out Henry Davis, Jr., himself and two other persons owned land on the north side of Genesee Street, while the Syracuse Company owned land on the south side.
Genesee Street then, ran diagonally northeast and southwest thru what is now the center of the park. Redfield and the others gave the land which composed the north side triangle and the Syracuse Company gave the south side triangle. It was named Forman Park, as suggested by Redfield, to honor the man considered the founder of Syracuse.
“In May, 1848, I purchased a building lot on the south side of Forman Park, 66 feet front on Jefferson Street and extending thru to Cedar Street, on which I built the house now standing upon it.” Wrote Theodore Clarke’s grandfather. “The lot cost $6.00 and the house cost $1,093. We moved into the house May 1, 1849. That was the first house built on Forman Park.
“When I purchased the lot it could not be approached with a team without making a bridge” wrote William Clarke. “On each side of the turnpike, Genesee Street, there was a ditch at least three feet deep. On the West was a gully four or five feet deep thru which Yellow Brook ran. The turnpike occupied about half of what is now Forman Park. Jefferson Street was not opened east of Almond Street. Jefferson Street sewer terminated at Yellow Brook. “Stanton Collins farm included Lemon Street, south of Genesee Street and the East end of Jefferson Street, and the corner of the farm ran into the park. All around was almost a limitless space of unoccupied ground.”
Mr. Clarke circulated a petition and Jefferson Street was opened to Genesee Street. He circulated another petition for grading and improving the park. And it was done by order of the Common Council. Genesee Street, was changed from a width of 100 feet to 66 feet to route it around the park. Residents of the Lodi Hill section opposed this, but Mr. Clarke appeared before the council and the park was laid out with Genesee St. changed.
The next step was to build a fence, and Mr. Clarke went around with another petition and collecting funds. He got $158.00 from 19 persons and the fence was built.All of this was written by Mr. Clarke in 1875. He was for 13 years deputy and acting County Clerk and Search Clerk. He was clerk and collector of the Village of Syracuse. He was the first assessor of the City. He was an officer of the First Congregational Church: The abolitionist (Jerry Rescue) Church.
Theodore Clarke, while a member of the City Engineering staff, helped make a city map during 1895 to 1910. He found papers and maps confirming his grandfathers statements. His first house on the park was later numbered 720 East Jefferson Street. He came here in 1835 and moved to Elmwood in 1866.