Nichols Park Bandstand – Beatrice – 105 Years Old – A Timeline History

Nichols Park Bandstand – June 2020

Bandstands; the importance of the community bandstand is lost on most of us as modern living people of 2021 but the “community bandstand” was an icon of progress for Southeast Nebraska communities at the turn of the 20th Century. It was the center of the town in most cases. It seems the smaller the town the more center the bandstand was. Blue Springs and many other towns placed their bandstands smack dab in the middle of the main streets. The bandstand served as a meeting place, a greeting place, a speaking place, a music place, a celebration place and a memorial place. Most communities felt themselves lucky to have one. There were temporary bandstands and more permanent ones, most of them had a cover top and some did not. They are commonly mentioned throughout history, mainly in the newspaper for a variety of reasons. They were a part of the community as much as the people were.

Beatrice actually had a few different bandstands which included one at the Central School and one in Chautauqua park. Many famous orators and politicians have graced the bandstands of Beatrice speaking to the people over the century. More of these bandstands will be covered in forthcoming posts but today the focus is on the Nichols Park bandstand; an icon on Court Street/Highway 136. You’ve probably passed by it hundreds of times. I remember when it had those hedge bushes around it but it wasn’t until I started researching the full history of it that I remembered it being painted red, white and blue! This was for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration and my! did the bandstand CELEBRATE! Wow!

The Bicentennial celebration made the bandstand a little worse for wear and the marching of time over this little concrete structure began to make it show its age. For a brief moment, this little bandstand was nearly destroyed in the name of “saving money on public properties expenses” it was even said at one point that “it had no historical value”. However, a group of people who loved the bandstand (not fully knowing its complete history) worked together all playing some small part to save it, beautify it, improve it and bring it back into the life of the community as a showcase to our history. Many of those people are gone now but Beatrice can be proud to say we built it, we love it, we saved it and it holds a special place in the heart of our community.

With that being said, we have some “Untold History” here and some discrepancies on the history of our beloved little bandstand. First of all, it was not built, funded or given to the city by George H. Frolick; he was the organizer of the fundraising drive to built it. Mr. Frolick had been elected committeeman and delegate for the West Side Third Ward in July 1916. I’m sure he was a primary driver of the project but the citizens of Beatrice also had a lot to do with the building of this bandstand.

Secondly, the bandstand was built in July 1916 (which started off with some heated public opposition – articles included in the timeline) for the cost of $250 (about $6,000 today) which was raised fully on the sale of newspaper subscriptions. (This was not a new community idea by any means – it’s how they paid for a lot of community projects in the days of yesteryear.) It was officially completed and ready for use a month later (not five years later) in August 1916 with a “Coming Out Concert” and by September 1916 had been fitted with electric lights before the end of the outdoor concert season.

Nothing I have found to date shows that it was donated by Mr. Frolick to the city in 1921 – which would make sense because that would be five years after it was built and officially opened and the citizens fundraising paid for it so the “donating” had already been done. In fact, no “prosy addresses” or “lengthy responses” were given at the opening concert which mentions the efforts of the community to create the park and there is no mention of a donation to the city in any newspaper in 1921. I believe this misalignment of the facts (which is unfortunate as there is a monument with some incorrect information) was perpetuated originally by the obituary of George H. Frolick in November 1961 in the Beatrice Daily Sun. {I’ve included his obituary below in the timeline}. Interestingly though, the obituary offers no mention of the bandstand. If someone reading this can prove otherwise, please do.

The “West Side Bandstand” as it was often referred to will celebrate its 105th Anniversary this August as we have already passed the 100th Anniversary {oops!} in 2016. As we see so many of our older buildings fall into ruin it’s a reminder to enjoy the history of this little slice of a Southeast Nebraska community.

Nichols Park Bandstand – 105 Years Old – A Timeline History

  • June 1916 – George Flolick announces the first plans for the bandstand in Nichols Park and begins a newspaper subscription fundraiser.

    Fundraising begins for the bandstand – June 16, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    George Frolick has raised nearly $200 for the bandstand – June 24, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    George Frolick announces the money has been raised for the bandstand in Nichols Park – June 27, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    July 1916 – Members of the West Side Civic League oppose the installation of a bandstand in Nichols Park citing destruction of the newly erected park and ask for two year “moratorium” on the construction of the bandstand. Apparently, they disregarded the opinions of the West Side Civic League and began construction on the band stand three days later on July 9, 1916.

    West Side Civic League opposed installation of new bandstand – July 6, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    Mrs. F. A. Claussen, President of the West Side Civic Improvement League, opposes bandstand – July 7, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    Bandstand construction begins – July 9, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    Bandstand being built – July 12, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express
  • August 1916 – The bandstand is completed and officially opened for use in the “Coming Out Concert” of the band and the chorus.

    Beatrice Municipal Band and Male Chorus will perform next Sunday on the new bandstand – August 23, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    West Beatrice news – the new bandstand is completed – August 28, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    First concert at the new bandstand was widely attended – August 28, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Express

    Bandstand opens with a “Coming Out Concert” – August 29, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    Bandstand completed with electric lights – September 24, 1916 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • May 1955 – Peter E. Marchetti, past Nebraska American Legion commander speaks on Memorial Day at the bandstand.

    Peter E. Marchetti speaks at the bandstand for Memorial Day – May 31, 1955 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • November 1961 – George Frolick, Beatrice real estate broker, obituary.

    George H. Frolick obituary – November 22, 1961 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • March 1975 – Beatrice is designated as a Bicentennial City.

    March 1, 1975 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • August 1975 – The bandstand is “spruced up” for the Bicentennial celebration of 1976, painted red, white and blue by the Green Thumbers group.

    Nichols Park and bandstand prepared for Bicentennial celebration – August 11, 1975 – Suzanne Knabe article – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • November 1981 – Announcement of recommended and possible removal of the bandstand by City Administrator and Public Properties Committee.

    Possible removal of the bandstand – November 14, 1981 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    November 27, 1981 – Rob Marvin photos – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • December 1981 – Rob Marvin letter “Spare the Bandstand!”

    December 2, 1981 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • December 1981 – Beatrice Sertoma offers to spruce up the bandstand.

    Beatrice Sertoma offers to spruce up the Nichols Park bandstand – December 8, 1981 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • July 1982 – Bandstand gets a facelift and the paint is sandblasted off and minor repairs made by Vans Waterproofing.

    Bandstand gets facelift – Vans Waterproofing begins cleaning and repairs – July 31, 1982 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • May 1983 – Beatrice Civic Garden Club plans to put plantings around the bandstand.

    Beatrice Civic Garden Club to plant flowers around the bandstand – May 19, 1983 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • April 1987 – Beatrice Board of Public Works approval for renovation of the bandstand which includes adding lamps, lighting and a water tap at an estimated cost of $1,000.

    Bandstand gets BPW approval for renovations – April 30, 1987 – Lana Likens article – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • May 1987 – Beatrice Clean City Inc. adopts the bandstand and plans to plant flowers.

    May 16, 1987 – Lana Likens Article – Beatrice Daily Sun

    The Beatrice Civic Garden Club begins to clean up and maintain the bandstand under the “Adopt a Spot”/Beatrice Clean City program.

    Article: “Beatrice Civic Garden Club celebrates 45th Anniversary” by Zack Hammack – September 7, 2018

  • November 1987 – The Gilbert family, nephews of George H. Frolick, visit the bandstand.

    Gilbert family visits the bandstand – November 6, 1987 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • June 1988 – Flag pole dedicated at the bandstand by Mayor Bob Sargent in Elks Lodge Flag Day ceremony.

    Flag Pole to be dedicated at the bandstand – June 11, 1988 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • September 1992 – Weishahns’ tending to the flowerbeds at the bandstand.

    Vernita and Milton Weishahn tend the garden in Fall 1992 – September 5, 1992 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • 1993 – Family members of George Frolick travel to Beatrice to donate a memorial stone at the bandstand. However, the bandstand was funded for $250 by the citizens of Beatrice with a newspaper subscription fundraising drive headed by George H. Frolick and the bandstand was completed and opened in August 1916.

    George H Frolick Monument – March 2021

    July 1994 – Tending to the flowerbeds at the bandstand.

    Beatrice Civic Garden Club tend the bandstand – July 1994 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • October 1997 – Beatrice Civic Garden Club tends the to flowers at the bandstand.

    October 25, 1997 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • October 2007 – Beatrice Civic Garden Club cleans up bandstand.

    Article: “Clean Up Day” by Joelyn Hansen – October 25, 2007 – Beatrice Daily Sun

  • July 2013 – Beatrice Street Department replaces the concrete floor of the bandstand with approximately 27 yards of new concrete at an estimated cost between $1,300 – $2,000.

    Article: “A Failing bandstand” by Scott Koperski – July 20, 2013 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    Article: “Historic bandstand to reopen in Beatrice park” by Scott Koperski – July 12, 2013 – Lincoln Journal Star

    Article: “Bandstand to reopen Monday” by Scott Koperski – July 12, 2013 – Beatrice Daily Sun

  • October 2016 – Beatrice Civic Garden Club requests from the Beatrice Plus Advisory Board a drip irrigation system be installed for the flower beds around the bandstand at the approximate cost of $400.

    Minutes: Beatrice Plus Advisory Board, October 11, 2016

    Bandstand – March 2021
  • After 2016 (exact date unknown) – A memorial stone for Helen Lampe Thompson, Garden Club member, was placed at the bandstand.

    Helen Lampe Thompson Memorial Marker – March 2021
    Helen Lampe Thompson Obituary – 2016 – Beatrice Daily Sun
  • January 2020 – Beatrice City Council discusses improvements to the bandstand estimated to cost $6,500.00 brought up by the Beatrice Civic Garden Club.

    Article: “Board discusses improvements to Nichols Park bandstand” by Monica Brich – January 27, 2020 – Beatrice Daily Sun

    Bandstand – March 2021
  • August 2020 – ADA Compliant Access Improvements made around Nichols Park bandstand sponsored by the Margaret and Martha Thomas Foundation – Nebraska News Channel article by Doug Kennedy – August 20, 2020

    New parking spaces – March 2021
  • September 2020 – The Beatrice Civic Garden Club announces they have raised $20,000 for improvements to the bandstand area in Nichols Park. Southeast Community College horticultural students recently helped with upkeep and the goal is to have a 100 year anniversary celebration and to work to have the bandstand listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Projects include: paved parking, paved sidewalks, benches and signage. Donors include: Margaret and Martha Thomas Foundation, Exmark Manufacturing, Gage County Foundation and the Norris Power Goodwill Fund.

    Article: “Beatrice Garden Club receives donations to enhance the Nichols Park bandstand” by Monica Brich – September 4, 2020 – Beatrice Daily Sun

  • October 2020 – Volunteers from Exmark work on pouring new concrete walkways around the bandstand.

    Article: “Exmark grant to benefit Nichols Park bandstand project” – October 14, 2020 – Monica Brich article – Beatrice Daily Sun

  • November 2020 – Beatrice Civic Garden Club requests support in the nomination process to place the bandstand on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Minutes: Beatrice Regular City Council Meeting – November 16, 2020

    Bandstand improvements – March 2021
  • August 2021 – 105th Year Anniversary of the Nichols Park Bandstand

    Bandstand – February 2020
    Bandstand improvements – March 2021
    Nichols Park Rock – placed where Martin V. Nichols owned one of his original Beatrice land parcels – February 2020


Sunken Gardens – Lincoln

The history of the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln is a bit unique. It began as a Lincoln trash dump and the citizens of Lincoln worked to turn it into a beautiful garden oasis in 1930.


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