Centralia Foundation, Charitable Foundation, Foundation Park, Carillon, Centralia Illinois Recreation Complex

Foundation Park

Here amid wooded hill, dale and stream may little children laugh and romp -- youth find healthful fun and imaginative adventure -- maturity seek peace and renewed faith.
Verne and Ella Joy - 1946

A Centralia entrepreneur by the name of Verne E. Joy can be credited with establishing the Centralia Foundation Trust in January of 1943. Mr. Joy announced after having researched community trust plans used in such cities as Dayton, Cleveland, and Chicago, that he believed a benevolent trust could be set up in Centralia. His initial donation of nine thousand dollars put the corporation into business.

Mr. Joy, the owner of the Centralia Sentinel Newspaper and Chairman of the Centralia Foundation Board, envisioned a place of natural beauty that could benefit both the young and young at heart. Through his benevolence and enthusiasm for his dream he encouraged others to participate in what was to become a perpetual gift to the community. In January of 1946, Mr. Joy purchased and donated a parcel of land amounting to seventy-three acres that was located just ten blocks east of downtown Centralia. A second piece of ground was attained in May when Caroline M. Robnett gave her family farm, which was forty acres that neighbored the Joy ground to the north-west. Then in June of that same year, Dr. Carl Hall donated a thirty-five acre tract of land that lay to the north and east of the two preceding land contributions.

A year later, June 1947, seven acres were added, followed by the public purchase of an additional ten acres at the east end of Broadway. So it began with the merger of these lands (Joy Fields, Robnett Park and Carl Hall Park) along with contributed funds, that the approximately three hundred acre Centralia Foundation Parks System got its start.

A firm of park architects out of St. Louis, MO, drew up a master plan that would emphasize the natural aspects of the proposed park. Paul Stover, an engineer and land surveyor, was asked to do the initial layout for the park roads.

Under the direction of Mr. Stover, old orchards, eroding farm grounds, briars and thickets were transformed to a lovely scenic park. Paul, accompanied by his father, Holie B. Stover (the city engineer at the time) designed the impressive stone entrance piers, bridges, and numerous rustic shelters found throughout the park. Paul Stover then accepted the position of Park Superintendent, which he held until his retirement in 1986. Over the past forty years the park has grown and flourished. Its boundaries now contain nearly 300 acres of preserved park grounds, which for a city the size of Centralia is quite exceptional.

Throughout the park an emphasis on maintaining a natural appearance is evident. Once you enter, you become surrounded by nature, with little notice to the outside world. One can be awed by the selection of plants and trees, as well as small animals who make the park their home. Despite the feeling of seclusion, you're never more than a few minutes from civilization.

The word "Foundation" by definition means funds given for the permanent support of an institution. Consequently it was named The Centralia Foundation Park System. Privately owned, privately funded, yet open to the public.

The park is open to the public year-round from dawn until 11 pm daily. The main road is closed through the winter months. No alcoholic beverages are permitted. No motor vehicles are allowed off the road. There is no charge* for using any of the park's facilities.

When visiting, all we ask is that you take only memories, and leave only your footsteps.

For shelter reservations or further information, contact park superintendent, David Sachtleben.

* Note, there is a charge of $100 for use of the park for a wedding.

Rev. 12/31/2018
Centralia Foundation
115 East Second Street
Centralia, IL 62801
(618) 532-7424