Westcott Community

The Westcott Neighborhood of Syracuse, NY

A vibrant eastside neighborhood rich in history, culture, food and entertainment

Walking Tours

Westcott's England

Stop #18

Westminster Park

  • Built: established 1890
  • Architect: Unknown
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The land for Westminster Park, a former sheep pasture, was deeded for a park by the original Westminster Tract developers in 1890. The 4.784 acre park sits at the end of Westminster Avenue atop a 655-foot drumlin and offers superb vies of Syracuse and Onondaga Lake – better when the foliage is not full. From 1890 to 1910 the city did little to improve the property except to develop Westminster Avenue and a sidewalk around the top of the drumlin. In 1890, ambitious plans were promoted for the erection of a rustic Gothic style resort hotel at the highest point – where Westminster park is now. Like so many plans in Syracuse – these went nowhere. Still, these are telling about how this part of the city was perceived at the end of the 19th century.

An article in the Syracuse Daily Standard (February 26, 1891) speculated on future plans:

On the Highest Peak A Large Rustic Hotel to the Built on the Top of Lookout Park A Resort for Pleasure-Seekers in Summer – Plans of Real Estate Agents for Next Season

The real estate market is quiet just at present and the agent finds little more to do than to sit in his office, smoke cigars, and plan for the future. A talk with real estate dealers will disclose that these plans for the future are being made on a gigantic scale. It is a prevailing impression among real estate men that the boom a [sic] their particular line in the spring will be something enormous. Each, of course, claims that the greater boom will be in the direction of his particular tract. While there is no doubt but that considerable will be done in all directions, judging from the present outlook, the boom will open strongest in the eastern and southern portion of the city. The tracts lying in this direction are the Easterly tract, the Westminster tract, the Hillsdale tract and the University homestead tract.

A scheme which has been maturing during the winter and which in all probability will be carried out in the spring is to erect a pleasure resort on the Westminster tract, a park of about six acres. It was laid out by the owner of the tract for a park. The trees and shrubs making the shading of the park have already been set out. The park is situated on the summit of the highest portion of the tract, which is the highest hill in tho vicinity of Syracuse. From the park, which will be called Westminster park, a view can be gained of the entire city of Syracuse, of Onondaga lake, and Oneida lake, which can be easily seen on a clear day. Drives and walks have been laid out in the park and these will be nicely graded and paved, with asphalt. The main drive will be the termination of Westminster avenue. The drive terminates on a large round plateau upon the very summit of the hill. It is at this point that the scheme takes form. Upon the eastern side of this plateau it is proposed to erect a large rustic hotel which will attract thousands from the city during the warm summer months who desire fresh air and delightful scenery. The plans for the hotel have not yet been definitely made, but this much is known, it will be built in similitude of a log structure and will be Gothic in architecture. The consolidated railroad have made preparations to lay their tracks within about 200 feet of the proposed building and access to it may thus be gained when the road is in full operation. Electricity will be the motive power of the road and it is estimated that it will not take to exceed 20 minutes to reach the resort from the center of the city.”

Twenty years later, people were still waiting for park improvements. The Syracuse Journal reported on Oct. 22, 1910 that “Superintendent Campbell said to-day (sic) that the people of the seventeenth ward were entitled to have the park improved, as the people of that land pay a large portion of the city’s tax, with their residences being very valuable,” the article read.

In the years that followed, the staircase from Euclid Avenue to Westminster Park was constructed, trees were planted and a gazebo was built to host the families traveling by trolley to enjoy the view.

In recent decades Norm Richards has worked to preserve the view at Westminster Park, organizing   neighbors each year to clear out dead brush and to pick up trash – especially the beer cans and broken glass that frequently litter the stairs.