Owen Penfield Fox Park is a small triangular plot of property along Croton Avenue near the downtown area of New Castle, Pennsylvania. It was dedicated on Friday, November 11, 1955, and named in honor of Owen Penfield Fox, a longtime city resident known as the “father of New Castle’s parks.”
Fox was born in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, on September 14, 1890, and moved to New Castle with his family while he was still as a youngster. He grew up in New Castle and became an avid outdoorsman and artistic painter. He worked at Brown & Hamilton Dry Goods and the New Castle Store and also served as the local Boy Scout commissioner in the late 1920’s. After the Municipal or “Muny” Golf Course, a city-owned property later renamed as the Sylvan Heights Golf Course, opened in 1928 he started worked as a caretaker there. In 1932 he was hired as the official “City Forester” and began a longtime program to build up and beautify the parks and open spaces of the city. Fox continued an improvement effort began by local businessman and city councilman Louis G. Genkinger (1875-1944).
Fox’s proudest achievement was the beautifying of Gaston Park, a thirty-seven acre property originally used as a cow pasture and later known as Cunningham Woods. The park was renamed in late 1918 in honor of Dr. Perry S. Gaston, a local physician who was the first county man to be killed in action in France during the Great War (World War I). In the coming years Fox went on to build various small floral gardens around the city including at Jameson Hospital along North Jefferson Street, at Kennedy Square (the Diamond) in the downtown area, at Laurel Boulevard in the North Hill district, and at Darlington Park in Mahoningtown.
On Friday, November 11, 1955, a small park area along Croton Avenue (at intersection of Grove and Mill Streets) was renamed as Owen Penfield Fox Park and officially dedicated in his honor. Fox was honored by city officials that day for his untiring efforts during the last quarter century. The site had previously became home to a small replica of the Statue of Liberty, one of about 200 such statues built to honor the fortieth anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1950. The Boy Scouts organization had the statues built between 1949-1952 and sold them through fund-raising drives to local communities in thirty-nine states and several U.S. territories. The replicas cost $350 total, weighed 290 pounds, and were 8.5 feet in height. The New Castle statue was erected on a large pedestal in late 1953 and lighted by equipment and power donated by the Penn Power Company. Other such statues were erected at Lincoln High School in Ellwood City and Wick Park in Youngstown, Ohio.
Fox, who resided with his wife at #716 Emerson Avenue in New Castle, retired in January 1961 after about three decades of distinguished service to the city. He continued to act as a consultant to the parks department until he passed away on October 7, 1966, at the age of seventy-six. He was subsequently buried in Graceland Cemetery and the park along Croton Avenue still bears his name today.
The Miss Liberty statue that graces Owen Penfield Fox Park along Croton Avenue. In the left background you can clearly see the old Fisher Dry Goods Building and the Mill Street Bridge. (2011) Full Size
One of several plaques that adorns the large pedestal of the statue. (2011)
Another plaque presented by the Boy Scouts. (2011)
(Aug 2012) Full Size
(Aug 2012) Full Size
Lady Liberty stands ever vigilant on a dreary morning. The Mill Street Bridge is in the process of being replaced in the background. (Jul 2013) Full Size