Goldfish Pond Association

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A Brief History of Goldfish Pond

About Us

For over 30 years, the Goldfish Pond Association has worked to make our neighborhood park beautiful! Check out our Facebook page for the latest photos and announcements.

Researched & written by Patricia Greene

Early History — First Settlement
          The first European arrivals to Lynn in June 1629 settled right here at Goldfish Pond. Edmund Ingalls and his family arrived in Salem in the fall of 1628, having emigrated from England sailing aboard the ship Abigail with John Endicott. After bunking down for the winter in Salem, the Ingalls arrived at the Deer Cove section of Lynn beach, and made their way inland. The family’s first dwellings, a primitive “dug out” and later a “framed house,” were located in the area of what is now 39 Bloomfield Street. Of course, the area at this time did not look like a public park as it does today. The pond was described as a swampy mud hole and was known as “The Swamp” or “Ingalls Pond.” There were alder bushes in a center island surrounded by cat­o­nine tails. It was used as a watering hole for cattle and pigs. The swamp would dry out in the summer and local farmers would use the caked mud for fertilizer. The surrounding area was farmed by the Ingalls family. Edmund Lewis arrived in 1644 and settled on the opposite side of the pond near what is now the corner of Lewis Street and Cherry Street. 
          Throughout early Lynn history, the pond area was noted as a special place due to its “first settlement” status. Local parades would always trail down Fayette Street, the first named street in Lynn, and pass by the Ingalls property in respect for its place in Lynn history. One such important event to note is the tour of General Marquis de Lafayette of France to the United States in 1824. Lafayette was invited by U.S. President James Monroe as the nation’s guest due to Lafayette’s crucial supportive role in the American Revolutionary War. During this trip, Lafayette would tour all then twenty­four states, including a tour through Lynn passing by the Ingalls settlement. It was due to this prestigious visit that this street would later be named Lafayette Park.

Arrival of Goldfish
          It was about 1840 that local boys traveled over to the Stetson Estate in Swampscott and retrieved some goldfish that were discarded by a visiting family. The boys dumped the fish into Ingalls Pond. These few goldfish flourished in their new surroundings. Within a few years, the fish were so abundant that local boys would collect them and sell them door to door for family parlor bowls. Since this time the pond was now called Goldfish Pond. However, the pond was still a swampy area and used by some local residents as a dumping ground. The area was also infested with muskrats.

The Building of a Public Park
          In 1870 city officials brought forth the project to build the city park. The project was to be a dual benefit to two Lynn neighborhoods. The Goldfish Pond swamp area would be dug out to make a pond surrounded by a curbed walkway, and therefore beautified. The earth dug from the swampy pond would be brought to the Lynn Common to fill in a low lying area which was continuously mud soaked, and therefore improve that area. The total cost for building Goldfish Pond was approximately $9,000, a substantial investment for the city of Lynn in the 1870’s. Band concerts were common during the summer and the pond was popular with children for fishing and ice skating. Swimming was also a regular occurrence at the pond up until 1932, when the city officially posted a no swimming ordinance. An Elm tree was planted in the center island on Arbor Day, April 29th, 1889. There was a large celebration and a popular Lynn area actor of the time, Charles Davis, was chosen to plant the tree. The planting was a very theatrical production and loud cheers erupted for every dig of his shovel. The tree was known as the “Davis Elm” and remained a part of the Goldfish Pond landscape until 1958 when the city took it down due to disease.

The Goldfish Pond Association, 1980
          During the 1960s the pond area was suffering from neglect. Once again, the pond was used as a dumping area with discarded shopping carts, tires, and trash. Vandalism throughout the park and the destruction of the park benches prompted the city to threaten the removal of all benches at the pond in 1970. Bon­fires and the burning of discarded Christmas trees were an irritant to the local residents. In 1980 neighbors organized and formed the Goldfish Pond Association (GPA). Headed by Gerard Dwan, this group would steadily make improvements to the pond area.
          Dwan and Priscilla Gately would undertake a flower planting on the center island that would become a Memorial Day weekend ritual for members of the GPA. The return of flowers to Goldfish Pond was a welcome sight in the city of Lynn. In order to keep the membership active, the GPA organized teams of residents to care for the flowers, mow the lawn, and clean the pond surroundings. The current group of GPA neighbors continues with this tradition. Each week, a team meets at the pond for their “duty.” The teams are rotated throughout the growing season. A fund raising event in the form of a flea market would also become an annual ritual. Named “Fun and Flea Day,” a spot of land around the pond is rented to local venders for table space. Fun events such as boat rides, face painting, clown shows, and a cookout are all a part of this active day in the neighborhood.