In 1906, an independent park commission headed by Edwin C. Peters purchased thirty acres of pastureland on the city's north side. Peters later recalled, "When the commission was appointed, there was no park sentiment in Sioux City - After a prolonged fight, we got a 2 mill levy for park purposes, and that levy raised $16,000." The commission decided that the north side of town, since it had no park, would be the park commission's first undertaking.
Within two years, grass seed and sod covered the grounds and 2,200 trees had been planted. Soon, flower gardens began to bloom, and winding drives meandered through the hills. Then, in August of 1908, a crowd of 3,500 people watched as the commission presented the new Grandview Park to the city of Sioux City.
City dignitaries made speeches and Moses Reed's band provided music for the occasion. The Sioux City Journal reported on the evening: "Amid the glow of the setting sun, which formed a circle of gold over the distant hills and made a picture ideal, fully 3,500 people gathered last night at Grand View Park, listened to delightful music, heard appropriate dedicatory addresses and formally accepted the beautiful public playground from the park commissioners."
As the city grew around the grassy acres, Grandview Park provided a place to play, enjoy nature and listen to music. In later years, a rose garden, band shell and playground were added for everyone's enjoyment.
John and Elizabeth Magoun donated the Lincoln statue, located at the south entrance to the park, in 1924. It is a very close likeness of a similar statue that Mr. Magoun had admired in Jefferson, Iowa. The statue is the work of sculptor Granville Hastings. Both the statue and base are carved of Minnesota granite. Lincoln stands 7 feet and 10 inches high, and the pedestal rises 7 feet.
The Rose Garden was created in 1937, sponsored by the Sioux City Municipal Rose Garden Association, a partnership of the Iowa Rose Society, Sioux City Garden Club, American Association of University Women and other interested individuals. It was designed by landscape architect Newell Guernsey and featured more than 100 varieties of roses and arching trellises.
During the 1880s, the city built a water reservoir on the highest hill in the park. By 1912, the reservoir was too small for the city's needs and an additional reservoir was constructed next to it. The original reservoir was doubled in size. The two reservoirs create an imposing sight at the top of Grandview Park.
The Grandview Band Shell
In 1930, the Monahan Post Band under the leadership of Leo Kucinski began an earnest campaign to erect a music shell in Grandview Park. The City Parks Department was willing to cooperate, but the Depression left no funds available. Friends of the band agreed to guarantee a small construction loan for a simple structure, which the band itself planned to repay. The small amount was raised, a design agreed upon, and work began in August of 1930.
Neighboring property owners, who felt that the proposed structure was unworthy of the beautiful setting of the park, soon stopped work on the project. The plan was placed on hold until a more acceptable structure could be designed. Meanwhile, the band worked to secure more funds and find a more suitable design plan.
Then, two fortunate things happened that would change the scope and size of the band shell project: 1) On November 7, 1933, President Roosevelt created the Civil Works Administration, and 2) The manager of the Monahan Post Band was shown a drawing of a music shell that had won an honorable mention in a Paris competition.
Quickly, applications were prepared asking that the development of the natural amphitheater and construction of a band shell in Grandview Park be included in the CWA projects for Sioux City. Within two weeks, nineteen civic organizations had endorsed the proposal. The requests were sent to Des Moines and Washington D.C. Then, on February 26, 1934, the application was approved and the band pavilion project became CWA Project Number 217.
At the same time, the award-winning plan by local architect Henry Kamphoefner was accepted as the perfect design for the Grandview Park music pavilion. It later won the notice of designers around the world and received numerous awards.
The February 17, 1938 issue of the Sioux City Journal described one tribute: "The Sioux City music pavilion in Grandview Park, brain child of a young, unemployed and unknown architect of the city, who drew the plans in the basement studio at his home here, is to be included in an exhibit of the American Institute of Architecture, which will be shown throughout the United States and in Europe. This latest honor will place it among ~100 representative and distinguished (structures) erected in the United States since 1918."
That young architect later became a talented and respected professional. During Kamphoefner's 25-year tenure as founder and dean of the North Carolina School of Design, the school rose to international prominence in architectural and design education.
Work on the project began again on March 5, 1934. Although there was a brief delay when the CWA was reorganized under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the last cement was poured on October 17.
Altogether, the structure required 52 tons of reinforcing steel, 4,200 bags of Portland cement, and 300 bags of white cement. Herschel Elarth designed the sculptured plaques on the front. First, he created the figures in clay. Then molds of the designs were made and brought to Sioux City. Casts of the molds were then made in white cement.
The orchestral stage was designed to accommodate 100 musicians or a chorus of 300. The building also featured two large dressing rooms, two smaller dressing rooms, a conductor's room, library, and storage room. Seating for 5,000 was constructed in the natural amphitheatre. Project costs, as approved by the CWA, included $47,436 from Federal Relief funds and $3,800 in materials from the city of Sioux City.
The music pavilion was dedicated during the spring of 1935. The Monahan Post Band played there every summer until 1948, when they became the Sioux City Municipal Band. The Municipal Band still plays summer concerts there to this day.