17 January 2011

putting the 'gate' in gatekeeper

Entry Gates, 1890

Stereograph of Gates, 1899

I've been voraciously reading Janet Kitz and Gary Castle's Point Pleasant Park, An Illustrated History, to beef up on my park knowledge and to help infuse my installations and performances with more sensitivity to the park's past.  The first 40 pages have already divulged gun duels at the Martello Tower (for real!) and I finally figured out that the historic terms 12-pounder and 24-pounder refer to guns, not food or fancy boxing tricks.

Above and beyond all that flashy drama, I was struck by the process and diligence dedicated to the placement of the park gates.  In occupying the gatekeeper's lodge-a gothic Victorian structure, I feel a strong sympathy for the gates, as they echo a kind of ornamentation that simply has not survived contemporary design and architecture trend.  

When His Lordship, Chief Justice Sir William Young was elected chairman of the park in 1873, the placement of "handsome and substantial" wrought-iron gates were one of his primary contribution goals.  Designs for the gates were submitted from international competitors, but the design by Edward Elliott for the Starr Manufacturing Company of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was ultimately selected.  The gates, installed August 21 1886, were a point of transition for the park as it had previously been identified primarily as a military armament.  The ornamental gates served to mark the official public entrance to Point Pleasant Park until the 1940's, when Young avenue (namesake to Sir William) was paved at the North side of the park, in front of which the gates still stand.

Postcard, 1912

Postcard, 1912

I couldn't resist including this postcard image, part lodge-part gates... and adorned with the original Canadian flag (called the Red Ensign) before it was our lovely, timeless red white and leaf.  Sometimes change is really better.

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