The history of Devoe Park in University Heights begins with the construction of the First Reformed Dutch Church in 1705 on the site. This church is said to be the oldest Bronx church with a regular ministry. The congregation’s property was considerable due to the 1684 bequest of the Manor of Fordham, which extended from the Hudson River to the Bronx River. In the 18th and 19th centuries, church members included many prominent Bronx families, including the Van Cortlandts, Dyckmans, Devoes, and Bayards, as well as Mrs. Edgar Allan Poe. Although the church building was destroyed in the Revolutionary War, a new church was built near Kingsbridge Road in 1802. It was the first of three edifices to stand on that site. The second church was built in 1849, and the present building was erected in 1940.
The City of New York acquired three parcels of land for the park between 1885 and 1904. The Board of Alderman named the site Devoe Park in 1915 in honor of the previous owners. The Devoes were a wealthy Bronx family, congregants at the First Reformed Dutch Church, and descendants of Daniel Turner who acquired the lower section of the Fordham Patent of 1676. In 1868, shortly before streets had been laid out, four Devoe families were landowners in the area. Between 1913 and 1915 the park was laid out with curving paths, entrances and stairs, an iron pipe fence, lawns, trees, bushes, plants, and thousands of tulip bulbs.
Two new playgrounds opened in 1935 and 1936. The one to the east featured a playground building, benches, play equipment, a wading pool, and facilities for basketball and shuffleboard. The second was designed for small children with play equipment, a sandpit, and benches. The free play area in the center of the park was opened in 1941.
In 1995, as part of a reconstruction of the park, three scholar trees (Styphnolobium japonicum) and eleven pin oaks (Quercus palustris) were planted to provide park goers with the pleasure of green shade.
Directions to Devoe Park
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