“Memorialized” in Port Huron History

Posted on February 26, 2019

The stadium was the first project selected by the Foundation to support and it was to be called Memorial Recreation Park.

The years leading up to and surrounding the inception of the Port Huron District Foundation were fraught with war. Many families and young men from Port Huron had been affected including Frederick C. Sherman, a highly decorated Navy admiral. Sherman was the grandson of Loren Sherman,  longtime editor and publisher of The Daily Times in Port Huron, and had been a three-time recipient of the Navy Cross. When the Foundation completed a poll to determine the wants and needs of the community in 1944, 67 organizations and 10,000 citizens endorsed the idea of a community memorial to honor men like Sherman who had fought in the war.

On April 12, 1945 upon the motion of George Higgins, supported by Howard Crull, the Stadium project was selected as the first project to be sponsored by the Foundation and called the Memorial Recreation Park. In a partnership with the City of Port Huron a public financial campaign was launched culminating in the first Port Huron High School football game played at the new stadium in September 1946.

It was declared by National Recreation Association’s Wally Weber, “to be one of the best facilities in the Midwest for high school use,” boasting a football field with 5,000 stadium seats and a field house.

The Memorial Stadium Project was the first bricks and mortar project to be completed by the Foundation, but not the only project to be supported during its early years. The Boy Scouts received $3,500 to purchase a campsite, and $8,500 was pledged to the Girl Scouts for the construction of a lodge at Camp Playfair.

In 1954, thanks to the Joint Hospital Fund led by F. Granger Weil, Mercy Hospital opened its doors with 100 beds and Port Huron Hospital expanded with an additional 50 beds thanks to the driving force of the Foundation. In 1953, construction of a small boat marina along the Black River progressed and an initiative was formed to construct a new YMCA building which opened in 1957.

By the end of the 1950’s, Port Huron had been named an “All-American City” and, the Foundation was beginning to review its next potential capital projects.

 

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