In January 2017 the Friends of Emerson Park was established to advocate for the city of Stevens Point to obtain and repurpose two acres of open green space, originally the grounds of two high school buildings, the last of which was demolished in 2002. The land had been vacant and minimally maintained from 2002-2018.
On July 18, 2018, the Stevens Point Common Council purchased the parcel from the Stevens Point Area Public School District, and in August 2018, voted to dedicate this parcel of land as an official city park.
Until the founding of Emerson Park in 2018, there were no public parks in District 3, the city’s center. With the exception of Morton Park, south of Patch Street and the CN Railroad tracks, there are no other public parks in the northern two thirds of District 5. The majority of Stevens Point parks are nestled on the edge of town and the city’s periphery. The establishment of Emerson Park created a public open space within walking distance for residents of the central city neighborhoods of Stevens Point.
For over 100 years, the Emerson parcel served as a school site for the city of Stevens Point. The first school on this parcel was built in 1894 and served as Stevens Point High School until 1923 when a second school building, Emerson High School, provided additional space to accommodate the growing population of high school students.
With the construction of P.J. Jacobs High School in the late 1930s, Emerson School became a Junior High (1938-1970), then an Upper Elementary (1970-1991) in conjunction with Jefferson Elementary, and finally an Alternative High School (1991-2001). The last Emerson School building was demolished in 2002.
Images and digitized access to Stevens Point and Emerson High School Tattler yearbooks courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library, Recollection Wisconsin, and Portage County Public Library:
For a more extensive history on Stevens Point and Emerson High Schools, see local historian, Chelsey Pfiffner’s four part series, originally published in the Stevens Point City Times at https://historicstevenspoint.wordpress.com/.