HomeThe Charles Eliot Scrapbook Research GuideResearch QuestionsResearch Question 3:

Research Question 3:

How were The Trustees and Metropolitan Park Commission funded? What legislation was involved in adding to the money allocated for public parks?

The Trustees of Public Reservations:
Before The Trustees of Public Reservations was incorporated, they outlined how they wished to proceed in a circular [pg. 14]. In the circular, they wished to ask the Legislature to create a Board of Trustees and an advisory board to oversee The Trustees. A hearing to incorporate The Trustees took place [pg. 35, article 3]. Finally, it was decided to incorporate The Trustees of Public Reservations by Chapter 352 of the Acts of the 1891 Legislature on May 21, 1891. On Page 36, it is noted that The Trustees do not have capital stock, but may acquire real estate to the amount of $1,000,000, as well as personal property to the same amount. The property that is open to the public would be exempt from taxation, “but no lands not open to the public shall be exempt for more than two years.” The entire act is given on [pg. 41c-d].

The terms of the by-laws are laid out on [pg. 38; pg. 40], where it is stated that whoever subscribes $10+ to The Trustees receives an annual report, and is invited to an annual conference. Clubs and societies could also send a delegate on the same terms. An associate is declared to “be any person who shall give land or money to the value of $1000 or more."

Metropolitan Park Commission:
The Metropolitan Park Commission had a similar path to existence. Eliot in Garden and Forest [pg. 45] proposes a commission that can buy land in Greater Boston for the purpose of public parks. He believes that the Legislature should create an act giving power to the park commission to take lands regardless of town and city boundaries via state loan, “to be repaid in 50 years by the interested towns”. The legislation that created the Commission can be found on [pg. 103-104]. Apportionment, or how to divide the cost of the land for the Metropolitan Park System, came to a head in a case vs. the City of Lynn [pg. 131], where Lynn believed that they were paying too much for parks the city did not benefit from. The Commission was continuously given more money for the Metropolitan Park System; it was given $500,000 for more parks and an additional sum for boulevards [pg. 132] in 1896, and $500,000 more in 1897 for the Charles River [pg. 132]. The decree, which can be found in Folder 1 of the scrapbook’s loose items, notes that the Metropolitan Park Commissioners were given $2,300,000 by the State under various acts in 1893 and 1894, and $1,800,000 has been expended by the board by June of 1897. Pages 134-135 provide a complete summary of the Metropolitan Park Commission and how it is run. The full article [folder 1--Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court] gives the complete legislative decree concerning the Metropolitan Park System, as well as the money allocated to the program and the proportions each town had to pay.