Rowley Park Renovation

The Grand Re-opening was postponed until Saturday, November 5th, 2011 because of the snowstorm on 10/29/11. Click here to go to the Re-opening Photos! Continue scrolling down for a brief history of the park.

The restoration began in early June of 2011.

Rowley Park is located on the corner of North Arlington Avenue and William Street in East Orange. A satellite photo map of the park from 2010 (before renovation began) is shown below.

Construction of Rowley Park (named after Lincoln E. Rowley) began in 1963. Rowley Park was dedicated on June 3rd, 1967, with a bronze plaque fastened to a glacial boulder that had been found near the East Orange Reservoir in Livingston.

This photo of the glacial boulder, which was at the base of a flagpole just in front of the field house, was taken in November of 2008. The plaque had long since disappeared and no one we spoke to at that time knew anything about the history of the boulder or why the park was named "Rowley Park."

In 1896, Lincoln E. Rowley was the first vice principal of East Orange High School, and became principal in 1898 until he retired in 1900. Then Rowley was appointed secretary of the first East Orange Playground Commissioners formed under Mayor William Cardwell in June of 1907. He helped to establish Elmwood Park, which had been an ash dumping ground, and the former Oval Park near Grove Street. He was also instrumental in the Lincoln Statue Memorial formerly erected in 1911 at North Parkway and New Street. For several years afterwards, Rowley organized the Boy Scouts and citizens of East Orange to recognize Lincoln's birthday at the old memorial site by laying a wreath at the base of the statue. In the 1960's when the Garden State Parkway was built, the statue of Lincoln was moved to its present location in front of City Hall.

When we photographed the area in 2008, the fieldhouse at Rowley Park had been shut up and was deteriorating rapidly from neglect, as were the two stone gazebos shown above. They overlooked a lawn which had been used as a "bowling green" in the early days of the park, and had also been flooded for an ice skating rink in the winters.

We think the graffiti art wall behind the former basketball courts dated from 1995. The messages are of "Jazz", "African Pride", "Knowledge is the Key," "East Orange Pride," and "Hip Hop."

Local kids still used the park for basketball and the broken down play equipment that remained, but until Cicely Tyson Community School was constructed across the street from the park, there was no great demand for its services. Then the East Orange Unified Marching Band, stationed at the school, discovered it was a good place to practice for football games and parades (more photos HERE).

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Now in the summer of 2011, the park is undergoing renovation. Bulldozers have flattened the old "bowling green" and turned it into a football field with a running track all around. New playground equipment has been added, with rubberized playing surfaces. We will continue to add photos as the construction finishes and the park is rededicated some time in the near future.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh


10/23/11 View of the new fieldhouse.

Click HERE to see the NEW Rowley Park as of November 2011.

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2011, James Gerrish and Frederick Goode, Temporary Custodians