Lititz Springs Park band shell turns 75 History of 1937′s Park Improvement Project

By on September 5, 2012

By: RON REEDY Special to the Record Express, Staff Writer



Photo courtesy of Ron ReedyBeck's Concert Band at octagon music pavilion

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Lititz Springs Park Improvement Project. Paris F. Snyder, representing the Lititz Springs Park governing body, addressed the Lititz Chamber of Commerce in January 1937. He felt a need to re-awaken the interest of the people of Lititz for much needed improvements to Lititz Springs Park. From his talk and subsequent discussion came the "Park Improvement Project." This included the construction of the present day band shell.

In addition to the band shell, the Park Improvement Project included construction of a comfort station and the landscaping of the grounds. The contract called for the two improvements, namely the band shell and comfort station to be completed by the Fourth of July celebration of 1937. The total cost of the project was $5,172.71 and was supervised by Ralph M. Spacht and Charles K. Keath, co-chairmen of the Lititz Chamber’s Park Improvement Committee.

Young trees were planted throughout the Park as well as other improvements including a new drinking fountain (removed many years ago) erected on the site of the old music pavilion. The fountain was constructed of sandstone with six bubblers around the top. The fountain replaced the bubblers and troughs located at the head-end of the Springs. The Lititz Sportsman’s Association supervised the placement of the fountain.

A colonial style band shell was designed by John W. Greiner, an architect from Mount Joy. The structure would rest on thirty-three concrete piers. Although the colonial style was a difficult structure to build, the committee decided to keep the "colonial character" considering the history of the Park and any future work that needed to be done. The entire front elevation was painted white and the rear and side walls were done in a weather gray shingle with white trim and blue shutters. The building created a sparkling effect in its natural frame of beautiful trees and a wooded hill as a background. The facility, built by the Hershey-Leaman Company of Lititz, was indirectly lighted and was covered on the interior with a sound-reflecting, hardwood surface; they also constructed the comfort station.

In the August 5, 1937 Lititz Record & Express appeared a small paragraph within the column "A Warwick Woman Writes." The article suggested the idea of naming the new band shell, the "Paul E. Beck Memorial Band Shell." Apparently, few people thought about naming the new band shell, but with a renewed interest, now many thought it was a fitting tribute to a very prominent citizen of Lititz who did so much to improve the musical talent.

Who Was Paul Eugene Beck?

The following is a biography written by Dr. Herbert H Beck, brother of Paul E. Beck.

Paul was born in 1871, the son of Abraham R. Beck and the grandson of John Beck, both of whom were Lititz schoolmasters. Paul was reared in his father’s Family School for Boys. In this environment in which literature, art, music and natural history prevailed, he acquired the elements which determined his career. He received his bachelor’s degree at Moravian College in Bethlehem.

From 1895 to 1915 he taught music and art in the public schools at Lititz, Ephrata, Manheim and Mt. Joy and was the organist and choirmaster of the Moravian Congregation at Lititz. During this period he organized and conducted Beck’s Concert Band, an organization which attained considerable fame in Lancaster and neighboring counties.

Paul designed the octagon shaped music pavilion which was dedicated during the July 4th celebration of 1906. It was at his suggestion that the familiar German words, "Gottes Brunnlein hat Wasser die Fulle –God’s Fount is Never Failing" were carved in the stone at the head-end of the Springs. In 1915 Paul was appointed Pennsylvania State Supervisor of Music and Art. He was the first to hold this position until 1921, when it was discontinued. Later he taught music and art at the State Normal Schools of Clarion and Stroudsburg. Finally he was Professor of Literature at the Moravian College and Organist at the Nazareth Moravian Church. He passed away in 1934.

Dedication

On Sept. 2, 1937, the Band Shell was formally dedicated as the "Paul E. Beck Memorial Band Shell." The plaque was inscribed: "Dedicated to the Memory of Paul E. Beck, 1871-1934, Lititz Bandmaster and Teacher of Music, Art and Literature."

Dr. Arthur P. Mylin, Lancaster County Superintendent of Schools and once a member of Beck’s Concert Band, was the Master of Ceremonies who also delivered the address of dedication. Thirty-five hundred people were in attendance for the three-hour dedication program, which featured a music fest, a band of 115 members, a great chorus and soloists.

On Sept. 18, 1937 at 8 p.m., in the Lititz Springs Park before a crowd of about 2,000 people, the Lititz Chamber of Commerce presented to the Lititz Springs Park Committee and to the community of Lititz the "Paul E. Beck Memorial Band Shell." Prof. M. C. Demmy, Supervising Principle of the Lititz Public Schools, was in charge of the presentation program. He introduced Elser Gerhart, President of the Chamber of Commerce, who in turn presented the new Band Shell to the Park. The Chamber was responsible for securing the necessary funds for the new structure. Dr. Harry E. Bender, President of the Lititz Springs Park Committee, accepted it on behalf of the Park.

During the ceremony a plaque was unveiled which was located on the right side of the Band Shell. It read: "Erected by the Citizens of Lititz. Sponsored by the Lititz Chamber of Commerce. Presented September 18, 1937."

Praise for the "Paul E. Beck Memorial Band Shell" came from two band leaders. Albertus Myers, Leader of the Allentown Band, who performed during the presentation ceremony, termed the band shell as one of the best in which he had ever performed. He called it the best for its acoustic properties. Marion Walter, former director of the Tressler Orphans Home in Loysville, indicated that the band shell is one of the best he had seen in the State of Pennsylvania.

It was a proud evening for the large crowd of local people who witnessed the official presentation of the band shell. The citizens of Lititz, who had become quite accustomed to the musical entertainment during the Independence Day observances, could continue to enjoy the concerts in a most attractive setting — the band shell in the midst of Lititz Springs Park.

Submitted by Ron Reedy, Lititz Springs Park Board President and Historian. More BAND SHELL, page A3

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