Places in Allen County, Indiana

Foster Park

Google map photo from Steet View

3900 Old Mill Road. In 1912 Samuel and Colonel David N. Foster and their families donated Foster Park to Fort Wayne. The land extended along the St. Mary's River for some two miles, including wooded areas. The original wooded section contained 67 acres. Shortly after the addition of that land, the Fosters again made a donation. This time, another 40 acres. This extended the park as far as the Stellhorn Bridge. In the early 1920's the Park Board purchased 111 additional acres of land making the park an area of 218 acres, and bringing the park to four miles of river bank. In the large area the Municipal Golf Course and pavilions were and are located. In subsequent years additional land was added making for a total of 255 acres and Foster Park now also includes:swings and other play equipment, tennis courts, trails, floral areas, a replica of Abe Lincoln's Birth Cabin, and a cable foot bridge among other features. Interesting to note, in 1938 Foster Park Pavilion #3 was built by the WPA. Work on restoring this pavilion will start in late spring! Check out the NEW Ecology Trail Guide of Foster Park produced by Emily Richardson a student at The University of Saint Francis. Copied from Foster Park at City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation. Foster Park was founded in 1912 and comprises 255 acres along the St. Mary’s River. Its location at 3900 Old Mill Road includes an 18-hole golf course, several tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and a variety of floral gardens, a bridal area, and a paved pathway for bikers, walkers and joggers that run the breadth of its acreage. Land for the park came from Col. Samuel and David L. Foster, who donated the first 67 acres to the city in 1912. Since then, 151 additional acres have been added to the original land. The park also includes a dog park and several soccer fields located in the area known as Foster Park West which lies near the intersection of Bluffton Road and Winchester Road in Waynedale. Three stone pavilions are scattered throughout the parkback dating back to the 1930s, constructed with funding from the federal Works Progress Administration. Copied from Foster Park Pavilion #3 Restored by Michael Morrissey posted June 3, 2022 on The Waynedale

  1. A January 31, 2019 post by Hofer and Davis, Inc. Land Surveyors on Facebook.

    For "Throwback Thursday" we share this picture of "The Swinging Bridge" in Foster Park in 1939! BTW...A.K. Hofer was the Department Engineer for the Board of Park Commissioners in 1930 when this bridge was built.


    Foster Park Swinging Bridge photo album at Hofer and Davis, Inc. Land Surveyors on Facebook.
  2. 367 page Foster Park Cultural Landscape Report Fort Wayne, Indiana December, 2007 Prepared for Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation by Heritage Landscapes Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners Charlotte, Vermont & Norwalk, Connecticut.
  3. A New Life for the Stone Pavilion and Oak Grove at Foster Park post by Friends of the Parks of Allen County.
  4. Photos of marker posted June 15, 2022 on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.
  5. November 3, 2022 over 30 photographs were posted of the restored Foster Park Pavilion and pedestrian bridge over the St. Marys River and several photos before the restoration were posted November 4, 2022on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.
  6. Lincoln Cabin replica Street View photo from Google map

    1. It was dedicated August 22, 1920 from page 16 in Fort Wayne Monuments Plaques and Markers in City Parks from City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation, moved to its present location in 1936, and rededicated June 1, 2006 from page 38 in Fort Wayne Monuments Plaques and Markers in City Parks .
    2. Fourteen Lincoln Cabin photos with nine specific to Foster Park 1920 searchin the Allen County Public Library Digital Collections at the Allen County Public Library.
    3. Indiana. Fort Wayne by Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection Publication date 1965 on

    4. LOCAL LANDMARK REDEDICATED June 28, 2006 Mary Stark in The Waynedale
    5. September 13, 2020 post byHistoric 07 District - Fort Wayne on Facebook:

      As you enjoy a trip to Foster Park, you might next time stop to learn more about the Lincoln Memorial Cabin. The cabin, located at the entrance to the park, was to be constructed in 1917 (Picture #1 – 1920 Dedication). However, the project was delayed due to the United States entering World War I.

      The foundations of the cabin appear to be where interests of the Foster brothers, the Parks Board, and Lincoln National Life Insurance Company aligned. At the time, Samuel Foster was president of Lincoln, Colonel Foster was president of the Parks Board, and ultimately the two of them founded the park itself.

      Lincoln was formed in 1905, and Perry Randall, a Fort Wayne attorney and entrepreneur, suggested the name "Lincoln," arguing that the name of Abraham Lincoln would powerfully convey a spirit of integrity. In August 1905, Robert Todd Lincoln provided a photograph of his father, along with a letter authorizing the use of his father's likeness and name for company stationery and advertising. To this day, the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne is one of the largest collections in the country.

      Lincoln commissioned an architect to travel to Hodgenville, KY, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, to ensure the memorial would match every detail of the cabin in which Lincoln was born. Also, the logs used for the construction of the cabin were cut down from Southwood Park with the permission of Hilgeman & Schaff. The organizers even shipped trees from New York to match those with which were planted near Lincoln’s original cabin in Kentucky. So the next time you are at Foster Park, take a moment to enjoy the 100+ year history that connects us.

      Historic Southwood Park Neighborhood Association

      Historic Foster Park Neighborhood Association

    6. Google has many Lincoln Cabin Foster Park Fort Wayne, Indiana photos.
    7. August 20, 2023 post by the Lincoln Collection on Facebook:

      On August 22, 1920, this crowd gathered for the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial Cabin (center back) in Foster Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The cabin, a replica of the Kentucky cabin in which Lincoln was born, had been constructed in 1917 by the Lincoln Life Insurance Company, but the dedication was delayed by World War I. A flag-draped stage, visible in the distance on the right, was constructed for the dedication. The program included music by the Elks Band and a men’s quartet, a keynote address by author Frederick Landis, and finally the presentation of the cabin to the city of Fort Wayne by Lincoln Life Insurance Company President Samuel M. Foster and the city’s acceptance of the gift by Park Commissioner D.N. Foster. In his remarks, Samuel Foster expressed the hope that the cabin would bring the people of Fort Wayne “into a closer and more constant association with the memory of the greatest product of American democracy,” Abraham Lincoln. More photographs of the cabin dedication can be viewed at Foster Park 1920 search.

  7. February 18, 2023 post byHistoric 07 District - Fort Wayne on Facebook:

    “Foster Park is Given to People” was the headline in the newspaper in 1912 when Foster Park first opened. The evening was important, but the actual plan was hatched on a cold December evening in 1911 at the Anthony Hotel in downtown Fort Wayne. Read on to learn more and participate in a survey to provide feedback to the City of Fort Wayne on the future of Foster Park.

    David N. Foster, the father of Fort Wayne’s parks, began exploring beautifying Fort Wayne in the late 1880s and early 1890s. He organized the Fort Wayne Land and Improvement Company, which developed Lakeside. Foster, staunchly against saloons, ensured that the 500 acres around Lakeside would forever prevent the sale of liquors. While concerned about alcohol, he believed Fort Wayne should have a park within a 10-minute walk of every home.

    In 1895, Foster supported the creation of a committee to decide whether Fort Wayne needed a municipal park board. By 1905, an actual Board of Park Commissioners was formed, and Foster served as the president for 25 years. During this time, he became instrumental in beautifying Fort Wayne and fortifying the city as a haven for viewing parks as a quality of life issue.

    Fast forwarding to 1911, Foster knew that tax support was not available to purchase land. While a new taxing law allowed the Park Department to declare park districts and levy taxes on property in those districts, the money could not flow outside that district. This created a barrier to extensive funding of parks across different locations. So on that cold December evening, Foster gathered the influential members of Fort Wayne society at a banquet.

    The goal was to get individuals to pool funds to purchase property around town. That entity would then purchase and donate the property back to the people. Hence the title, “Foster Park is Given to People.” That evening he was able to raise $10,000. For perspective, Weisser Park (15 acres) was purchased for $10,500, and Lakeside Park was updated for $17,500. This group would eventually support the purchase of portions of Foster Park and other properties formed as parks.

    At the 1912 dedication of Foster Park, approximately 25% of the city, or 15,000 people, were in attendance. However, the real purpose of why Foster did what he did became evident that day. Through donating the land for Foster Park, he believed parks were critical for cities. In speaking to the crowd, he explained why. Foster, born in New York City, spent his childhood in a major metropolitan area. Born in 1841, he stated as a child, he would walk miles to Central Park to “enjoy a breath of fresh air and a glance at the green grass.” Amazingly, a childhood experience in New York City led to the development of our great park system.

  8. April 24, 2023 post by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation on Facebook:

    Fort Wayne Parks reopens restored Pavilion 3 in Foster Park. This public-private partnership brings new opportunity for reengagement with a little-known section of Foster Park. The structure that had started to deteriorate has been made sound, with new wood shake roof, windows and flooring. It’s completely and accurately restored in the style of the original design. In addition to the rustic limestone and timber picnic shelter, park users can enjoy a new nature path through the woods, access new integrations to both the Foster Park walking loop and to the Fort Wayne Trails Poka-Bache Connector plus a beautiful open vista view of the St. Marys river. This project was made possible through a public-private partnership with Friends of the Parks of Allen County, South West Area Partnership and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation.

  9. April 24, 2023 post by Mayor Tom Henry on Facebook:

    Thrilled to celebrate Foster Park Pavilion 3 today, a successful multi-year effort to partner, plan and complete an accurate restoration of the historic picnic shelter and the surrounding Oak Grove recreational site.

  10. Foster Park floral display is in its spring glory!

    Posted by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation on Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    Tuesday, April 16, 2024 post by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation on Facebook:

    Foster Park floral display is in its spring glory!

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