Thursday, August 6, 2015

Out For a Stroll at Henes Park

Dear George,
Menominee residents, current and past, would likely be unanimous that Henes Park is a community treasure.  My parents took me there to see the deer and the buffaloes when I was just a toddler.  Later in childhood we’d join with the O’Hara kids at their house and walk down the Green Bay shoreline to visit the playground.  There was a large slide and a smaller one, 3 or 4 swings, and a teeter totter.  The best item was a merry-go-round-like structure which you ran and pushed, then jumped on and zoomed around in an endless circle.  Years later our group of teenage friends frequented Henes Park in the summer months, swimming at the beach, playing softball in one of the large open spaces, and grilling hot dogs at the pavilion.  When Katja and I became parents ourselves, we’d take our son J there on our visits home to swim and visit the small zoo and its U.P. creatures.  Now J and K take our grandkids to Henes Park when they travel to Menominee.  There are a lot of years of family pleasure vested there.  

Henes Park was a gift to the city by local German-American brewer and businessman John Henes.  In 1906 Henes paid $1000 for a 43-acre peninsula called Poplar Point on the Green Bay shore at the city’s north edge.  Keeping his plans private for a year, he donated the peninsula to the city in 1907 for use as a swimming beach and park.  The city fathers hired a prominent Chicago landscape architect, Ossian Cole Simonds, to plan the park.  Simmons had designed the Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, the Detroit subdivision of Palmer Woods, and many other midwestern parks and cemeteries.  His design for Henes Park included eight nature trails which were named after literary giants, e.g., Shakespeare, Longfellow, Byron, Goethe.  At the park’s dedication in October 1907, U.S. Senator William Alden Smith of Michigan proclaimed “a park that will forever be the property of every man, every woman and principally every child in this city and one where beauty, recreation and rest will be synonymous.”  In its early days Menominee citizens took the streetcar to the park for weekend outings and enjoyed brass bands and locally-brewed beer.  
Henes Park has 2600 feet of shoreline and offers beautiful views of the bay.  On a clear day you can see Chambers Island and even Door County to the east, as well as a skyline view of downtown Menominee to the south.  There are three playgrounds for kids, a swimming beach, three large open-air pavilions, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits, a small basketball court, and over a hundred picnic tables.  Each August the Menominee Area Arts Council sponsors its Art in the Park event at Henes Park, showcasing and selling original artworks.
I always take a bunch of photos when I visit Menominee.   On my July high school reunion trip I decided to concentrate particularly on Henes Park.  Walking through the park brought back a lot of good memories. Here’s how Henes Park is looking these days. Love, 
[Sources:, "Tribute to the 100th Anniversary of Henes Park";, “City of Menominee: Henes Park”;, “Henes Park Series”] 

1 comment:

  1. This was my favorite place as a child. It is a true community treasure indeed.