MARIETTA - The small, densely-wooded city park at the corner of Seventh and Ephraim Cutler streets has a long legacy of generosity.
Cisler Terrace Park is named for the brick home that overlooks the park and once claimed the park as its front yard, explained Dan Strecker, a board member of the Marietta Civitan Club.
Before her death in 1993, homeowner Lillian Cisler approached the Civitan Club about sprucing up the disheveled front yard for public use, recalled Strecker.
A student walks by Cisler Terrace Park on Friday afternoon. The park was first spruced up and furnished by the Marietta Civitan Club, who continue to set up an annual Christmas lights display in the park. (Photo by Jasmine Rogers)
"At the time, the area was just a swampy overgrown mess. She was interested in having it look nicer, and we developed the idea for making that area a park," he said.
The Civitan Club set about putting in a drainage system and adding wooden bridges that arc over the ditches. The club also built stairs that lead up onto the Seventh Street sidewalk and had several benches donated.
For several years up until Cisler's passing, the club maintained the park under Cisler's ownership. But at her passing, Cisler willed the park to the City of Marietta under the stipulation that it remain a park.
"Since the city took it over, we take care of it less. We still try to get in there and paint and clean it up a bit. But they mow and such," said Strecker.
At just over an acre, the park is one of the smallest in the city. And while it does not receive as much use as some of the larger recreational areas, it is well-known for an annual lights display that the Civitan Club still helms.
"We put up the Christmas lights. We just add and subtract lights as we go and as we can afford to put in new stuff," said current Marietta Civitan Club president David Grimes.
Last year the club added a new life-size nativity scene.
A yearly staple are the lights that extend from the flagpole to form the shape of a Christmas tree. To create it, the club has to entirely remove the flagpole from the ground, said Grimes.
"We take the flagpole out of the ground, unscrew the eagle, put it away, and replace it with a star," he said.
The lighting project usually takes a dozen club members and a group of student volunteers from Marietta College the better part of a Saturday to set up and the process of meticulously checking bulbs will start in October, added Grimes.
The Civitan Club pays for the electricity used during the lighting display, said Strecker, but permanent electricity would be on his wish list for the park.
"Right now we have lots and lots of extension cords. An electrician comes in and sets up a circuit block which we run to an electric pole on the sidewalk," he said.
A gravel path that winds through the park could also use a makeover, he added.
Lillian was not the only Cisler known for her charitable contributions. Her father Tom Cisler was the owner of Marietta's Cisler Brick Yard.
"Where the YMCA is all back through the Frontier Shopping Center was the Cisler Brick Yard. The also owned the hill where Marietta Middle School is," said Marietta City Councilman Harley Noland.
While most of the brick yard was sold off over time, Tom gifted the land near Cisler Terrace Park that the YMCA now sits on, said Noland.
Lillian was also a big supporter of music education in the local schools, he added.