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Saturday, April 1, 2017

From the Bob Murphy Collection
Comes an Absolutely Amazing SLI Map, But was it Just a Proposal or Reality?

UPDATED: 9:15 a.m. 4-2-17
Did you know that the Institute, then the Assembly, had a 3-story dock a short ways out into the lake whose second story was used for nightly band concerts? Did you know that between the railroad tracks and the water's edge was a very large area of tiered seating for those who came to enjoy those nightly bands? Did you know that there was an underground tunnel to take the concert-goers from the east side of the railroad tracks--inside the fence--to the west side's tiered seating? And did you know that the third story contained four large bells which were rung every morning and every evening and could be heard for miles?

Did you know that SLI had a baseball diamond, a quarter-mile track, a grandstand, and a gymnasium? Stores for candy and ice cream and a post office, all of which makes for an exceptional sports complex.

Today we'll let the hand-sketched map tell the fascinating story until we can get one or more of the written histories to verify it as actual history and not just the wishful thinking of some. Why are we skeptical? Sports was one of those areas of life somewhat frowned upon by early Methodists because most of the sports complexes and the heroes of sports were not necessarily espousing "good Christian lifestyles," somewhat like the old category of actors and theaters.
This northeastern section was purchased in 1880 and had been known as a "wilderness area." In 1887 it is recorded that work crews leveled off the land, laid out streets and lots, and installed drainage tiles underground. So the question becomes was the wilderness area always literal wilderness or was it considered "wilderness," as in spiritual wilderness, after some built the sports park?

In the typewritten "key" to this map, one statement implies that at least the grandstand actually did exist: "(#4) Courtesy of Frank D. Roberts, Druggist, Perry, New York." Or was it simply an offer made by Mr. Roberts? The search is on to back up the actual structures and events between the purchase in 1880 and the conversion to residential in 1887. Either way, the sports park seems to have been rather short-lived.

The last time I read about a history report utilizing the word, Promenade, was when I was deeply involved in the history of the 1901 Pan American Exposition. So I was rather surprised to realize that the Assembly had its own Promenade. Perry Ave. was informally--but certainly--attached to Ames Ave. The dashed line that you see through Auditorium Park and even the Auditorium itself, indicates on the map a well-worn path where people regularly crossed the Park between Perry Ave. and Ames Ave.

This promenade, also seen in photographic history, created one long and straight walking footpath all the way from the north ticket office and horse stables at Camp Road and Perry Ave. all the way over through the ticket booth at Chapman to the Hall of Philosophy (Epworth Inn) on the campus (south) side of Chapman Ave. In those early years, Ames Ave. became Palestine Ave. after one crossed Chapman Ave. Today Palestine Ave. is simply known as the entrance road to Asbury Camp & Retreat Center. The camp never really adopted any of the paper street names in the campus area of the Assembly.

To Enlarge the map segment above, click on it.

To SEE and Scroll Around the ENTIRE MAP, click HERE.

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