Clark Stadium, Cypress Park, Clark Field, Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club, and the Clark Building all can be found on the 6.56 acres between 8th and 9th Street on Valley Drive. This is the second largest park next to Valley Park in Hermosa Beach. With the exception of the Beach and Greenbelt, the Clark complex is the most widely used park in Hermosa Beach, especially for organized sports.
Cypress Park was changed to Clark Stadium in 1936 honoring Mayor Clark. It was John Clark who obtained approval of the council to have a lawn bowling green installed on the east side at his own expense, approximately $2000, in 1935. He was from England where the sport was and still is extremely popular. In the future it would be declared as one of the five best designed greens in California. Seventy three years later the Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club continues to have open bowling, tournaments and lessons.
In 1936 other improvements were made to the Cypress Park site including adding the Community Hall - now referred to as the Clark Building. Weddings and parties were held in this building which holds up to 200 guests. In the past there was a Card Club and Men's Club that used the building. Tennis courts, retaining walls, and baseball facilities were made possible by the WPA. In 1958 the Blynn Lumber Company and Marcellus Joselyn respectively donated a small office building and funds for bathrooms, a kitchen and a storage room. This became and is still known as the historic lawn bowling clubhouse. Some years later Adolph Ehlers and club members added a patio and storage shed. A second green, which was partially funded by Marcellus Joselyn, an avid lawn bowler, was added in 1963. This green was removed in 1968 and replaced with basketball courts. In 1967 the mayor awarded a certificate to the Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club for appreciation for its beautification of Hermosa Beach. The interior of the clubhouse houses many trophies, plaques and historic photos and memorabilia demonstrating the use of the club over the years.
The Clark Building has received a complete exterior makeover. It is a beautiful building with a marvelous combination of paint colors and gorgeous windows and doors. The kitchen and bathrooms are slated for renovation as well. The Parks and Recreation Commission is currently working on a master plan for Clark Stadium. Possible renovations for this 74 year old park include the rebuilding of bathrooms and the snack shack, removing some of the fencing around the basketball courts and updating the lighting. Possible additions include a bandstand, amphitheater, and more parking. The commission is asking for more public input regarding the renovations before it is presented for approval.
Clark Stadium boasts a baseball diamond and soccer field with bleachers, restrooms(open from 7:00 a.m until 10:00 p.m.), a score board, a snack stand and lights which remain on until 10:00 p.m. The Clark Building is used for classes, meetings (the Hermosa Garden Club and the Woman's Club), worship services, as a party rental and for children's activities. It is used every day of the week. There are also two tennis courts with lights on until 10:00 p.m, basketball courts with lights on until 9:00 p.m., and the lawn bowling club which has open bowling Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:45 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., Saturdays from 9:45 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and on Wednesday evenings during warm weather beginning at 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. depending on the month. On Fridays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m you may shop at the fabulous Farmer's Market at the northeast end of the park. The Farmer's Market which has been held in Hermosa Beach for the past 18 years, carries fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and plants, prepared lunch items, kettle corn, pastries and breads. It has been particularly successful since it moved from the downtown area to the current site a few years ago. Mary Lou Weiss continues to coordinate the very successful Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market.
There are some interesting historical aspects to this park. In the early days the playing field was not necessarily a pretty sight nor was it pleasantly odoriferous. There was a septic tank which pumped its residue through pipes to a sewer dumping ground which apparently was the west end of the then named Cypress Park. In the mid 1930's a sanitation district was established which solved many of those problems. The original red brick baseball clubhouse was in the southwest corner of the park. It was built in 1937 and torn down in the 1990's. This building had showers and a locker room. The inside had tile on its walls from the old Hermosa Tile Factory which had opened in 1922. The retaining walls which still stand today were built in 1936 from the rubble of old Hermosa streets and curbs that were being replaced as part of a post war salvage program. It is a very interesting and artistically built wall especially considering the materials that had to be used. There is a stamp with the date 1928 on it near the northeast end. The current City Seal (which hangs in the courtyard of the City Hall) has a lawn bowl depicted along with a baseball bat and tennis racket. These items represent the popular sports that were and still are played at Cypress Park. The seal was designed by John Hales in 1964.
If you visit this wonderful park and recreation center on any weekend you will see all facilities being used. Soccer and baseball leagues play games there as well as adult and girls' softball; meetings and jazzercize classes are held in the Clark Building; curious onlookers observe members engaging in lawn bowling games, tournaments and lessons as tennis matches and one on one basketball games are being played nearby. There are approximately 200 parking spaces. There is parking on Valley across from the park, parking to the side of the Clark Building, and a small lot on the northeast end. Besides the front entrance off of Valley, there are paths from the southwest, northwest and southeast ends of the park. If you have not visited this park and would like to try your hand at lawn bowling, take a look at the Clark Building, or play one of the other sports offered, watch for upcoming Open Houses. The Lawn Bowling Open House will be May 9th while other areas of the park will be scheduled later in the year. Of course you can stop by and enjoy the wonderful facilities at Clark Stadium any time.
Resources: Articles from the Beach Reporter, Easy Reader, Daily Breeze and others from the archives of the Hermosa Beach Historical Society; "History of the Lawn Bowling Club" by Bill McInerney ; Footnotes on the Sand by Patricia Gazin; interview with Public Works Superintendent Mike Flaherty.
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