Lincoln Park is one of Newark's three colonial parks. Originally called "South Commons," and later "South Park," what is now Lincoln Park was initially used as a watering place and grazing area for livestock. Lincoln Park was named for President Lincoln, who once gave a speech on the steps of the (now abandoned) South Park Presbyterian Church here.
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While the two northern colonial-era parks had definite uses as a training ground and marketplace, respectively, Lincoln Park was neglected and underused. The problem of squatters on the park land was acute enough that the town council passed a law saying the parkland "was not to be disposed of or added to a man's property without the consent of every freeholder and inhabitant of the town . . ."
Despite the town council's efforts, Lincoln Park was so little used that in 1792 Captain Jabez Parkhurst set up a schoolhouse on what should have been open space. The schoolhouse would exist until 1848.
Though not the equal of Forest Hill or Washington Park, at the turn of the last century, Lincoln Park was the home of some of Newark's business and cultural elite. Leather manufacturers John Peshine and Isaac Bannister and jewelry maker David Dodd called Lincoln Park home after the Civil War. Soon they were joined by the even wealthier German brewers Christian Feigenspan and Gottfried Krueger. When Feigenspan moved to a larger mansion on High Street, his home was purchased by Henry Kessler, after whom the Kessler Institute is named. Even Governor Franklin Murphy, owner of the Murphy Varnish Company, lived here.
It was the public-spirited Feigenspan who donated the money for the majestic Colleoni statue in 1916. The statue is a copy of a statue in Venice much admired by John Ruskin.
Lincoln Park transition from patrician to institutional after World War I. In 1919 the Newark Academy of Medicine moved into the former Kirkpatrick mansion at 91 Lincoln Park. The Medical Tower was built in 1930.
Lincoln Park has played an important role in Newark's African-American history. Sarah Vaughn grew up here and the Coleman Hotel was located just west of the park itself.
Lincoln Park has a number of interesting statues, Captive's Choice (aka, "An Historical Incident of November, 1764") and "Planting the Standard of Democracy", one of Newark's WWI memorials.