"The American Legion approached us in February to request that the park be recognized," Historic Properties Commission Chairman John Stewart said. "The commission was happy to give this area the historic properties designation."
Members of American Legion Post 50 met with Historic Properties Commission representatives Thursday on the infield of Legion Park to accept the certificate of designation. Dan Skamperle is the commander for American Legion Post 50.
"We are ecstatic to have received the historic site designation from the Historical Properties Commission," Skamperle said. "This park has been in existence since the 1940s, and was built by veterans for the people of this community. Members of our organization and the community have been working hard to renovate Legion Park, and we are extremely happy to have it brought to modern standards. The history of this park is just phenomenal."
The community-wide effort to upgrade the historic park included support from the county, the city, the school system, American Legion Post 50 and other service-oriented agencies. Support was provided through private and public grants and in-kind services.
"Legion Park has been in continuous use since it was opened in 1947," Skamperle said. "It has been utilized by multiple organizations over the years for a variety of events including wrestling matches, rodeos, and car shows. Scotland County Schools, Scotland County Parks and Recreation and private organizations have hosted athletic events at the park for years; the Philadelphia Phillies professional baseball organization used the park for a summer camp in the early 1950s."
A new American Legion youth baseball program will debut at the park next week, with the season continuing through mid-July.
A critical component to the Legion Park project is to restore the original advertising signs on part of the interior wall with fresh paint and to maintain the World War II-era quonset hut as an original Legion Park fixture.
"Legion Park joins a growing list of places in the county to receive a historic site designation, including Old Laurel Hill Church and Stewartsville Cemetery," Stewart said. "Since many of us in the community have lasting memories of either visiting Legion Park or playing athletics there, including myself, we feel good about it being renovated and preserved."
The Historic Properties Commission of Scotland County was formed in the 1970s to protect the John Blue House and the Gill House in Laurinburg. Legion Park is located between Atkinson Street and Sunset Drive at Crepe Myrtle Avenue.