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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 two hundred and sixty 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 Centralia 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.


David Sachtleben, son-in-law to Stover, is the current Park Superintendent. Sachtleben researched and emplemented several additions to the park, including the Chapel in the Woods, the Restored Prairie, the Restored Wetlands, the Labyrinth and the Harris Shelter to name a few. One of the most sought after newer attractions is the 27 hole Disc Golf Complex that brings disc golf enthusiasts from accross the nation to play the highly rated course.


Since it's beginning in 1946, the park has continued to grow and flourish. Its boundaries now contain nearly 300 acres of preserved park grounds which for a city the size of Centralia is quite exceptional.

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