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Frozen In Time: St. Cloud’s Barden Park [VIDEO]

Stearns History Museum


ST. CLOUD — This week in our Frozen In Time series we stopped out to St. Cloud’s oldest park formerly known as Central Park.

Central Park was established back in 1855, predating the City of St. Cloud. The land was donated by John Wilson who is considered to be one of St. Cloud’s founding fathers.

St. Cloud Mayor, Dave Kleis says at the time it was rare for a city to have designated park space, “it was very unique…pretty much any open space was considered park land, but this was an actual dedicated park.”

An Irish immigrant named Charles Barden came to St. Cloud in 1895. He was instrumental in expanding the park and adding in the 1920s band shell.

The addition of the band shell made the park a destination for live local music. The St. Cloud Municipal Band was a park regular with weekly performances.

Kleis says the band was quite popular, “there were a lot more people that would come because there weren’t a lot of outdoor music opportunities. A municipal band would have been a significant draw. You had hundreds of people that would come and listen to the band play.”

Kleis says the park was later named Barden Park in the 1930s after Barden passed away.

The park received a cannon that was from a Spanish ship during the Spanish American War. The cannon was on display in the park until World War II. During the war metal and iron were in short supply so the cannon was melted down and donated to the war effort.

Today, the band shell remains a key feature of the park along with a water fountain that was donated by Clarence Atwood.

Kleis says despite a few missing trees from storms that rolled through St. Cloud in June, the park looks as it did in 1855.

See more of our Frozen In Time Series

 All photos used in the video are courtesy of the Stearns History Museum.

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