One of the great things about the Fan is the variety and abundance of parks. This morning we took the kids over to Scuffletown Park (located in the 2300 block of Stuart Avenue behind buildings on Stafford and Strawberry Streets and Park and Stuart Avenues). After we told my son where we were going, he became obsessed with the name of the park and kept saying it over and over again. That made me curious as to how it got its name. I looked up this article when I got home and legend has it, the area was the site of a “scuffle” between the British and American troops during the Revolutionary War. And while my children loved the name, they were underwhelmed by the park itself at first. But, by the end of our visit it was the adults who had to convince the children it was time to leave.
As I sat on a bench watching my kids think of things to do in a park with “nothing to do” (no playground equipment or sandbox), I started realizing how peaceful I felt. Long, narrow stretches of grass are surrounded by beautiful shrubs and plants and interspersed among the plants are various bird baths, garden decorations, and benches. High up in a tree that will be great at providing shade in the summer is a set of wind chimes that were quite soothing (which is saying a lot because I’m not usually a wind chime kind of gal). What seemed like it didn’t fit was the concrete running down the middle of the two long, narrow stretches of grass. According to the aforementioned article, in the 70′s (and, trust me, you can tell it was the 70′s), the city decided to turn the area into more of a “park” and added concrete benches and walls. The kids made use of the donated chalk and left their own form of graffiti behind.
It would be a great place to bring a picnic, a book or small children not yet accustomed to fancy playground equipment. It seems like a great place for children either stuck in strollers, just starting to get around (fences surround the grassy areas), or prone to eating the mulch and sand at other parks.
While I started wondering aloud with my mother-in-law how long the park had been there, what the evolution of it was, and who was responsible, along came a very friendly man with his dog. Turns out this man is named John Patterson and his dog is Maggie Mae and they are the ones to thank (along with the Friends of Scuffletown Park) for much of the upkeep of the place.
After John replenished the bags used to pick up after dogs, we got a chance to ask him all of our questions and he told us some interesting facts. He said when he moved to the Fan in 1965 the park was already there. A barn in the middle of the park was used to keep horses for Richmond’s Mounted Patrol but once that barn was no longer needed for horses, many homeless people used it as shelter and, as a result, the city tore it down. He has contributed the plants in pots, birdbaths, windchimes, trellises, and the lantern pictured below (using a monetary gift given in thanks). Now that his arthritis is bad and he has had a quintuple bypass, he’s convinced the city to mow the grass and pick up the trash. But most other chores are handled by him and other volunteers.
I’m glad I learned about this spot and I’ll definitely be back – maybe with some more chalk and a ball or two for the kids to play with.