DECATUR - Mrs. L.P. Walbridge and Mrs. E.P. Irving had a gift for the people of Decatur: 153 acres of lakeshore property. Thousands of trees grew on the land and people often rented cottages there. But there was a catch. The women were daughters of the late Robert Faries who had owned the property. They wrote a letter to the local newspaper, indicating they would turn it over only if the residents voted to form a park district. The district would take over management of parks that had been owned by the city. This was, the women said, what their father would have wanted.
And so, in 1924, the Decatur Park District was born. Over the next 87 years, the park district would grow to encompass more land, a zoo, an airport, an indoor exercise facility and a slew of programs for the entertainment, recreation and betterment of the community. The land also served as a site for the state fair in 1863, 1864, 1866 and 1867. Macon County Historian Mark Sorensen said the most important event in Decatur park history might have occurred in 1901 when the city hired a man named Frank Torrence to be superintendent of parks.
Torrence immediately hired surplus workers and got to work planting flowers, clearing the grounds and With the formation of the lake, the city also was vindicated in its 1912 purchase of 83 acres of land adjacent to the Sangamon River. "He also made the park especially inviting to children," Sorensen said. Torrence's contemporaries would remember him as popular and hardworking. He died in 1928.
Nelson Park and Lake Decatur, though Lake Decatur is owned by the city of Decatur, its creation also affected the park district's future. Mayor Charles M. Borchers turned over the first shovel of land on the project in 1920. Three years and $2.2 million later, the public celebrated the lake's grand opening on the Fourth of July. The Beach House is opened Monday through Saturday and Sundays in the Summer.
While not working events around central Illinois or at the Beach House. Todd can be found with his daughters Piper & Mimi, or sometimes discovered in small towns through out midwest performing on his xylophone spreading cheer on street corners and gas stations.
Angie returned to Decatur in 2008 and has been a member of the Beach House family ever since. Angie has always had a passion for the restaurant industry and began honing her service skills while she was in college. She began at One World Cafe in Peoria where she was also a founding member of One World Theatre Company.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
The food and service were magnificent! Raw oysters and other appetizers were excellent and our entrees were worth every penny. We threw a curve ball at the bartender with an after dinner drink, and she made them without hesitation. Maybe they'll add them to the regular menu!