The history of Macomb Park District in a museum exhibit

Rok Locksley works on part of the exhibition.
An artist's interpretation of sculptures slated for unveiling on July 16.

MACOMB – “The Macomb Park District Legacy: A patchwork of community parks,” a new free exhibit will open Friday, July 8 at the Western Illinois Museum from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This exhibit is a cooperative effort between the museum and the Macomb Park District, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

According to Rok Locksley, AmeriCorps member of the park district and builder of the interactive exhibit, the exhibit will show how our local parks came to be and how they were named.

“Obviously the park district exists because the community wanted it and donated land for it,” he said. “This project came together like a quilt.”

“There is an ebb and flow of the park neighborhood that meets the needs of the community. When tennis became popular, we had the first tennis courts built in Macomb. We maintained ball diamonds so leagues had a place to play baseball. The skate park started when an officer mentioned that the kids needed a place to skate because he kept getting called because the kids were skating on private property.

“The interactive exhibit will have timelines that you can see – hanging mobiles divided by park or offerings. For example, Special Recreation has one, with each park having its own timeline,” Locksley said.

The Macomb Park District was founded in 1947 and is represented from its inception in the exhibit to its current location. Glenwood Park dates back to 1906, when a local farmer donated land for the project. Various artifacts, such as maps, drawings, and photos from the history of the park district are included. Photos of what Macomb Waterworks looked like in Glenwood in 1920 and the construction of the first version of Glenwood Pool in 1923 will be featured. The exhibition shows how the swimming pool served the public and how it was built.

“There are quirky and interesting facts about how it came together and how it continues to work,” he said.

There will be an interactive event where people can cut out pieces of cardboard and make their own patchwork quilt. It will be a project for a people to draw and leave their memories of the park district.

“It was wonderful to work with Rok and collect the history of the Macomb Park District,” said Sue Scott, director of the Western Illinois Museum. “He’s really, really creative and he’s found some really cool ways to convey history using information from the park district archives. We’ll also have a few things to add from the museum.

“The Park District is a big part of our community, and we’re happy to share its story and keep it for others in the future,” she said.

On July 16, the park district will unveil four new interactive Citizen’s Park sculptures. They were built by Rok. He says they are “big, strong sculptures that people can interact with.”