BEATRICE - Beatrice area residents gathered Saturday to observe the 100th birthday of the Nichols Park Bandstand. But as it turns out….it’s actually five years older.
Heather Korn researched the history of the structure, one of only a few built with concrete. It was placed in the first public park in Beatrice….intended to signify that Beatrice was more than just a country town.
"In June of 1914 , Martin V. Nichols, donated a tract of land to the park which doubled the park in size. In his honor the Westside Park became known as Nichols Park. On June 16th, 1916, George A. Frolick...early real estate investor of Beatrice and soon to be elected delegate to the third ward of Beatrice, announced he had begun a newspaper fundraising drive to build this bandstand for the new park. The reality of the situation is, it is not the 100th anniversary of this bandstand....it is the 105th."
The structure off West Court Street nearly met its demise, with some City of Beatrice discussion in the early 1980s about whether it was worth keeping.
"They didn't see, quote, any historical value in it and that it wasn't really used. The public properties committee had recommended tearing it down. On December 2nd, 1981, Rob Marvin submitted a letter to the Beatrice Daily Sun questioning the decision to tear it down. One week later, the Beatrice Sertoma Club announced their desire to take over the maintenance of the bandstand, in an effort to save it from destruction."
The bandstand has a rebuilt floor, and a local Beatrice Civic Garden Club that is steadfast in its efforts over the years to maintain flowers and plantings around the structure. Rosalyn Shaffer of the Garden Club says the birthday celebration is the culmination of a year working with the Mayor, City Council and Beatrice Public Properties Department to add parking, walkways, benches, picnic tables and placards.
Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth credited the members of the garden club for beautifying the bandstand and area along West Court….and says there’s hope that the bandstand will get historic recognition in the future.
"One of the other things that is going to take place later on, is trying to get the designation of this facility on the National Register of Historic Sites. If there's anything the city can do, we'd be more that happy to lend our support."
Free popcorn, ice cream and hotdogs were served at the Nichols Park Bandstand birthday party held Saturday, during Homestead Days.