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Friday, January 16, 2015

I'd like information about Watkins Wall

“Could you give me some information on Watkins Wall? When did it go up and why was it taken down?”

Longtime residents of Newton Falls may remember the wall, which stood from 1978 until 1986 on the corner of Broad and Center Streets. Ella A. Woodward’s History of Newton Falls (the revised edition, which had only been published in 1977) didn’t offer any information, so we turned to our Local History Room.

The Local History Room is open most Wednesdays, and one Wednesday evening Linda, our Local History Room volunteer, was able to locate an article from the April 30, 1986 issue of the Newton Falls Herald. The wall had been torn down that Tuesday.

It had been built in 1978, part of a beautification plan that involved planting trees, developing parks, and redesigning storefronts. The city built the ornamental wall, which included planters with trees and shrubbery, and put down new sidewalks on the south side of Broad Street, but unfortunately funds became unavailable before the plan could be finished.

Tearing down the wall was also part of a beautification plan. The Parks and Recreation Commission intended to create a better sense of flow in the Four Corner Parks area. Most of the wall was going to be replaced by a low planter filled with flowering trees and accompanied by a long bench. The trees and shrubbery in the Watkins Wall planter were removed. Some of them were moved to Sixth Street and some to the front of City Hall. It was one stubborn tree that ultimately brought the wall down. When workers went to remove it, it turned out that its roots had been holding together part of the wall, and taking out the tree took brick out with it.

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