Yes, I remember the Matter Park Zoo and especially the bear cage with that old bear inhabiting it. Once, after a trip to Michigan with the Marion YMCA kids, one of them brought back a giant turtle thinking their mother would let them keep it. Wrong! It wound up being donated to the zoo instead. But what of the zoo today?
Matter Park at one time housed the Marion Zoo, which was home to twenty-four deer, fifteen monkeys, banty chickens, twelve sheep, two raccoons, four peacocks, two foxes, one bear, seven or eight domestic rabbits, one rhea, one angora goat, a llama, and a lion. Today, however, the zoo has been closed due to lack of funding.
I also remember the Matter Park Train Ride alongside River Road and right next to the Mississenewa River. When the water was high in the spring, it often covered the tracks to this train. Sadly, it too is gone from the park now.
I also remember the Matter Park Pool where we took many trips to in the summer with the Marion Boys Club. Our kids really enjoyed their Friday’s there. But what of the pool today?
In 1990 it was proposed that the Matter Park pool be demolished due to deterioration and the expenses of upkeep. The pool had been built in 1924, and was beginning to show the wear of its age. Several renovations which would have had to have been completed to open the pool were repairing a leak in the roof of the bathhouse, fixing the water heater, the showers, and the toilets in the bathhouse which had not worked in years. The pool’s edges were cracked and chipped, and there were numerous cracks in the pool which were large enough to pose a threat to the health of swimmers.
In the spring of 1988, the city filled the diving well of the pool with cement due to problems keeping the water in the pool, thus limiting the uses of the pool in the community. The City Council voted unanimously to demolish the pool in May of 1990, and began the demolition in June of that year.
Thus, the zoo, train, and pool are all gone from Matter Park today however the memories of all three continue to thrive at this website.