Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park was constructed between the years 1928 and 1930, as the result of a large one hundred and fifty acre land grant from Mrs. Fannie Burr Look who was the wife of the late Frank Newhall Look. At the time of construction Mrs. Look provided the land and the money needed to develop the land, and she established a trust fund so that the park could be kept up and maintained for future generations to enjoy. The original park contained a variety of paths, ponds, streams, gardens, and sitting areas to enjoy nature. There were also recreational amenities like a small railroad, picnic areas, tennis courts, and other sports fields.
In 1938, ten years after the park opened to the public, the Works Progress Administration identified Look Park as a prospect for several improvements. One of these improvements was an outdoor theater. In the Works Progress Bulletin published by Lieutenant Colonel John J. McDonough in January of 1938, he stated the park would be “a mecca for lovers of theater and music.” He went on to tell of how colleges in the vicinity were already planning events there before the outdoor theater was even completed. These colleges included Smith College, Amherst College, and Massachusetts State, which would later become known as the University of Massachusetts. In addition to the local colleges becoming excited about the theater, McDonough mentions that local boy scouts and girl scouts were looking forward to having their outdoor ceremonies there as well. The actual structures that were built included the stone stage and two thirty-foot stone towers on each side intended to house the sound equipment, lighting controls, and an electric organ.
A W.P.A. Bulletin reported:
“Nearly a hundred WPA workmen are preparing the grounds for the summer season. They have built a frame garage and storage building, have done grading, trimming and resurfacing work, have built an iris pool and water gardens, relocated and widened roads, rip-rapped Mill River, built rustic gates and bridges, built culverts. repaired Hood damage, built new roads and paths, constructed a Girl Scout’s cabin and made additions to the swimming pool building.”
The functions of Look Park are the same today as they were when the park was constructed and then remodeled by the Works Progress Administration in 1938. The outdoor theater remains in use along with many other attractions. The park also has many playgrounds, pavilions, trails, boating options, rides, and even a zoo. The park, and theater specifically, has become a popular destination for the weddings and outdoor gatherings as well.
Works Progress Bulletin, Massachusetts: May 1, 1937 (pg. 3).
"Welcome to Look Park." The Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park. 2013. http://www.lookpark.org/ (accessed May 10, 2016).
Project originally submitted by Joseph Mazza on November 3, 2016.
Additional contributions by Evan Kalish.
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