From Civil War camp to dance hall, McClung Park hosts range of activities

Landmark award

A military encampment, a state park and even a theater, McClung Park has played host to a diverse number of uses.

The grounds at 1115 Chestnut St. were bestowed with the city’s Landmark award in 1995.

The 45-acres had been a high point used as an encampment during the Civil War, said historian Mark Schreiber. Many of the stones used in the construction had been stacked for breastwork during that conflict.

The site originally was built as a state park in 1915 with inmate labor, and it was named for D.C. McClung, who was then warden of the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP).

Two rock quarries on the property also were used by inmates from the MSP to quarry stone. And female prisoners, including Kate Richard O’Hare, known as “Red Kate,” were taken to the park for outings.

In 1940, McClung Park was traded to the City of Jefferson for a portion of Chestnut Street east of the prison.

Later, McClung was the site of the first public swimming pool in Jefferson City. The Little Theater building today is the remnant of the pool house and snack bar and the pool was where the parking lot is now.

“McClung Park has for many years been a center of community activities — including picnics, school outings, reunions, dances, etc.,” Schreiber said. “It is worthy of landmark distinction.”

The Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission has honored 82 homes, businesses and icons with a Landmark Award since 1993 to encourage rehabilitation of local historic structures.

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