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Fountain Lake Park: From eyesore to lakeshore

By Linda Evenson 

Photos courtesy Freeborn County Historical Museum

The three acres at the north end of Broadway, described by Mayor E.L. Hayek as an eyesore, became a beautiful public park along the shoreline of Fountain Lake in the 1930s. Fountain Lake Park was dedicated June 19, 1935, with a ceremony featuring speeches by Hayek and Blanche LaDu, chairwoman of government projects in Minnesota.

In addition to recreational use, the park hosted many events during its first decade: band concerts, talent competitions, pageants, civic meetings and a public wedding. During the state American Legion Convention in 1935, entertainment programs were held there. The park served as a backdrop for the 1941 Memorial Day program and flag-raising. Following the Victory Salvage parade in 1942, a program highlighting the scrap metal drive was presented in the park.

A unique event occurred in July 1941. An amended ordinance was before the Albert Lea City Council to permit the sale of beer on Sunday. Hundreds tried to attend the meeting. The council room filled quickly as did the corridors, stairway and sidewalk. For the safety of the public, the fire department requested the council move the meeting to a more open space. The mayor obliged, requesting all move to Fountain Lake Park. When the meeting resumed, citizens had an opportunity to express their opinions on the ordinance. Following a long discussion, the ordinance was tabled indefinitely.