Shotwell Memorial Park is located next to the Gazebo at the Northern tip of Skaneateles Lake in the village of Skaneateles, NY.
Shotwell Park, once acclaimed as “one of the most beautiful war memorials in the country,” has a rich history behind it. The property where the Park is located was originally owned by John Briggs, a Revolutionary War soldier who moved to Skaneateles in 1800 and built a tavern on the site in 1806. At the time the land was being considered for a park, the house on the site was owned by Josiah Jewett.
After Mr. Jewett’s passing, the executor of the estate, Nathan Jewett, sold the land to the Village of Skaneateles in 1934 and the house was removed. The funds used by the Village to purchase and beautify the park were bequeathed by Mrs. Florence Thorne Shotwell, wife of William J. Shotwell, a successful Skaneateles businessman and former president of the Village of Skaneateles from 1915 to 1920. Mrs. Shotwell requested, in her will, that the park be dedicated to her late husband. Later, Louisa R. Shotwell, a relative, bequeathed a maintenance fund for the park.
In 1934, Professor Noreda Rotunno, a Syracuse University landscape architect, designed the memorial park and construction began. At that time, the park was designed to contain only the names of World War I veterans (this was to have been the war to end all wars).
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1936, the Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated and the plaque containing the names of the World War I veterans was unveiled. Unfortunately, this would not be the last time Skaneateles would dedicate the memorial.
In 1943, the Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce organized the formation of a committee to create a public honor roll of the men and women serving in the armed forces during World War II. The Honor Roll was placed on a board, hung in front of the old Brounstein site, and raised high above the sidewalk so that it would not be vandalized. It was dedicated at the Memorial Day ceremony on May 30, 1943.
By 1947, the board on which the Honor Roll was placed had fallen into disrepair. Mr. Rotunno’s services were again called upon to redesign the memorial, construction began, and on Memorial Day of 1950, the park was rededicated. Subsequently, the names of the Skaneateles veterans who served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts were added, as well, and the park redesigned and beautified to include a pulsating fountain. Future tablets will include the names of those that served in Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, and the Persian Gulf.