Friends of Harmon Field member wins grant for book on America’s Harmon Fields

Published 11:57 am Friday, November 14, 2008

During the first planning meeting for Friends of Harmon Field (FOHF) and last year&39;s 80th birthday celebration for Harmon Field, Benny Smith said he believed there were other Harmon Fields in America and wouldn&39;t it be nice to find out more about them prior to the 80th celebration.

Lorna Dever decided to take that challenge and do some research to see what she could pull together before the celebration.

William E. Harmon, the philanthropist who was behind Harmon Fields of America, had seen the enthusiasm that reigned in Lebanon, Ohio, when he donated money for a recreational park in 1912.

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Realizing people&39;s love for recreation and especially the need for safe places where children could play, and knowing how expensive such facilities are for small communities to create, Harmon began the Harmon Playgrounds division of his foundation.

The first parks were awarded grants around 1925. Tryon received its grant money in 1927.

By the time of the local Harmon Field&squo;s 80th birthday celebration, Dever had compiled a book with information from the 16 Harmon Fields she had already located. She had also put together a PowerPoint presentation with all the pictures that had arrived from the various fields.

The enthusiasm Dever found as she contacted each field and the awareness of the legacy Harmon had left in America caused Dever to dream of one day writing a book.

About a month ago, Dever was contacted by the Harmon Foundation. After she sent them&bsp; a copy of the book and PowerPoint presentation prepared for the 80th celebration of Tryon&39;s Harmon Field, the foundation granted Dever permission to write the book, &uot;Harmon Fields of America ~ The Living Legacy of William E. Harmon.&uot; The foundation will also provide part of the funding for the venture.

In Dever&squo;s search, she had found information that indicated 119 communities throughout America had benefited from the Playgrounds of America project. The Harmon Foundation believes there were at least 129 and possibly even more communities that received money from the Playgrounds of America Project.

Dever is taking on the challenge of finding every Harmon Field possible and putting the information together in a book that will honor the legacy left by William E. Harmon throughout America.

‐ article submitted by Judy Schultz