Stark Park occupies a 30 acre tract that was once the site of the Stark Family farm in Manchester’s north end. The park was dedicated in 1893 and along with Derryfield Park, became one of the first public parks in Manchester and a source of great pride for the City. Much of that pride stemmed from an appreciation of the role of General John Stark in the American Revolution. At the park’s geographic center is the gravesite of General John Stark, purchased by the City along with the surrounding land in 1891. The park’s original design, created by the Boston landscape gardening firm of Morton & Quimby, made the most of rolling hills and views of the Merrimack River and was influenced by the work of Frederick Law Olmstead. Several other features appeared in the park during its first decades. The City paved the roadways with Salem crushed stone and lined each with granite edge stones. Benches, a vase fountain, a summer house, “playing fountains”, ornamental shrubs and trees were all added, some donated by private citizens.
The Naval cannonballs, with four Dahlgren cannons, came from the Charlestown (Massachusetts) naval shipyard. In 1897, veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic planted a colonnade of American Elm trees along the north, east and south park borders. The thirteen trees on the east line represented the original thirteen states, beginning with New Hampshire on the southeast and ending with Georgia on the northeast corner. The Daughters of the American Revolution added more trees in 1904 when they planted sugar maples along the southern entrance and named the entry drive “Revolutionary Avenue.”
Toward the end of the twentieth century, a lack of maintenance and the normal course of nature conspired to mask the park’s former stature as a jewel of the city.