Finn Park

Around 1913, the Finns decided that they needed a place to relax, a place that was not a boarding house, or a sauna, or a workplace. Most of the buildings and public spaces they had inherited. In other words, the Finns did not build anything new in Newport minus the exception of the saunas, the Finnish Hall, and the Temperance Hall. Having an established community, the Finns tried to buy land from the Richards Mill, but they refused to sell so, ” a deal was made and they were allowed to rent a sizable piece of land, maybe 15 or 20 acres, for twenty-five dollars a year.”[1] The Finns wanted to build a place where they could relax, and participate in athletics. The architect was Anslem “Ansu” Akkola and, “The building reflected the personalities of the builders, sturdy, strong without frills.”[2] Part of the motivation for building such a place was due to the success that Finnish athletes had performed so successfully in the 1912 Olympics, which was around the same time the Finnish community in Newport had reached its greatest heights. The Park was called Suomipuisto (Finnish Woods), and non Finns named it “Finn Park”.

Life in Newport for a Finn was not all about saunas and parks however. The men had to work, as well as some of the women, in order to provide for themselves, which was often a difficult task. Still the Finns were survivors, and their working life would be what would allow them to build places such as the Finn Park.

Previous Page: The Sauna

Next Page: The Finnish Swimming Pool

[1] Turpeinen, 28.

[2] Turpeinen, 28.