From Alberto Valdes
In February 1943, a proposal was made by the War Department that the park commission lease a portion of the park as a housing site for Army personnel. It was one of only two parks in Newark taken over by the Army, the other being Riverbank Park, which was converted to an air defense contingent of the Coast Artillery. The War Department took over a tract of 164 acres including the lake area. The Army placed barracks and created newly cleared areas in the park. A military hospital was built on the site of the former half-mile trotting track and infield, and a WAC encampment group of structures occupied the former archery range on the north end of the lake near Route 29 (now Route 22). The Atlantic Overseas Technical Air Service Command vacated Weequahic Park on November 29,1946. The buildings were left on the site to provide emergency veteran housing. As part of the lease agreement, in mid-1947, the Army began restoring the park in preparation for civilian use. Paths, roads, and concrete curbing were restored, grounds and sod were refurbished, boat-landing docks at the boathouse were replaced, and buildings were reconditioned. Although families were still occupying 181 buildings, and the field house was used as a health clinic center for housing activities, Weequahic Park was reopened in a limited way to the public in 1948. It was not until 1952, however, that the army buildings and roads were removed, allowing the remainder of the park to be open for public use. After much reconditioning of the track, racing finally started again on the 4th of July 1956. The park commission also began adding baseball fields, combination soccer and football fields and additional tennis courts.
From Barbara Barnes
Another memory of the barracks: if I recall correctly, when the decision was made to close the barracks, they were offered to the residents ( and the public too, I think). They were either free or very low cost. The problem..you had to move the unit from the park yourself to a new location. Not a problem for a friend of my dad's. He had purchased land in rural Morganville, NJ which was very wooded, unlike now. He cleared part of it and moved the house there. He remodeled it, added on to it and lived out the rest of his life in it with his with his wife. That unit had a very long life!
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