Should Hamline Park be Renamed?

Posted on December 4, 2014 - 3:05pm

Some Hamline Midway community members are interested in potentially renaming Hamline Park in honor of Clarence “Cap” Wigington, an influential African American architect who designed the building that sits at the Northwest corner of the park. 

Weighin by taking this short survey now.

According to St. Paul Parks Department policy, “any Saint Paul resident, organization, agency, or business may recommend…name changes for existing park sites. To give the recommendation more legitimacy, the Parks Department has recommended HMC facilitate a community conversation about the idea.

The Hamline Park Playground opened in 1921, but earlier mentions of the park date back to at least 1903, according to a document from the Hamline Midway History Corps. The park was originally named for the Village of Hamline, where it resided. Hamline had it’s own post office until 1926.  

The Hamline Park building was designed and built by Wigington in 1940. He is well-known for designing several other prominent historical structures throughout Saint Paul including Como Park Elementary School, the Highland Park Tower, the Roy Wilkins Auditorium and the Harriet Island Pavilion.

Several significant events were hosted in the park throughout its early life including a series of winter carnivals. The first was held in 1927, drawing 8,000 attendees. The first Hamline Carnival featured skating races and the crowning of a Carnival Queen, as well as fireworks, music performances and more.

Proponents of renaming the park say the name “Hamline” has less modern relevance to the park, as it is not connected to Hamline Ave or Hamline University—the two most prominent modern manifestations of the name.

Others have expressed a desire to preserve the historical significance of the name of the park and suggest honoring Wigington in other ways such as renaming the Hamline Park Building after him or erecting a plaque or other monument in his name.

You can find more historical information about Hamline Park by downloading the short document at the bottom of this page or by contacting the Hamline Midway History Corps.

So what do you think? Should Hamline Park be renamed in honor of Clarence “Cap” Wigington?

Fill out this short survey to join in the conversation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z287MLQ

If you have more thoughts on this issue than will fit in the comment section of the survey, please email HMC Communications Coordinator Kyle Mianulli at kyle[at]hamlinemidway[dot]org with your thoughts. 

All feedback will be taken into account and will help determine further community engagement efforts around this issue and will be considered by the HMC board in making an official recommendation to the city of St. Paul