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Women’s Movement Makes Lithia Park Possible

In 1908, women could not vote in Oregon. But the women of Ashland, Ore., wanted a park – so they organized.

That spring, 60 women formed the Ashland Women’s Civic Improvement Club.  Within weeks, its members presented a series of proposals to the City Council.  Key among them was the idea of dramatically expanding the Chautauqua Park grounds on eight acres of land where the entrance to Lithia Park now lies. The Ashland Tidings newspaper began referring to the women’s activities as “civic improvement agitation.”

By the fall, the club proposed an amendment to the city charter that lands along Ashland Creek be “reserved and forever dedicated” for park purposes.  The amendment called for an elected, five-member Ashland Park Commission and a permanent tax levy dedicated for park purposes with its funds controlled by the Park Commission.  Ashland voters passed the amendment by a wide margin, 607 to 138 votes.

Ashland dedicated the park over the July 4th holiday in 1916.

The “agitation” of the women’s groups and their visionary charter amendment laid the foundation for what would become Lithia Park.  They forever changed the face of Ashland.

 

Sources: O'Harra, Marjorie L. Lithia Park. Ashland, Ore.: Artisan Press, 1986. Print; Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings Apr.-Dec. 1908. Print.