This is the story of Osborn Park at 750 Bellevue Road in Atwater told by Vicki Carne, Secretary of the Atwater Historical Society, and edited by Beverly Barela.
The City of Atwater’s Osborn Park, located on 17 acres on Bellevue Road next to the Livingston Canal, was named after Charles A. Osborn. The City had several proposals to choose from regarding what to name the new park in 1963. They included Jim Daily, George Bloss Jr, Christine Bloss, Charles Wassum and Charles Osborn. Even Mrs. Bloss and Mrs. Wassum chose Charles Osborn. In all, 47 citizens chose his name.
Charles A. Osborn was born in 1888 to John B. and Maddie Osborn on a ranch near Delhi. The family moved to Atwater in 1892 when Charles was 4-years-old. At that time, only about 100 people lived in Atwater.
In Charles’ younger days, his father, John Benton Osborn, bought 120 acres, the C. C. Mitchell home, and the first store in Atwater from John Giddings and took charge of the post office, train depot, and the express and freight offices that stood by the store. In 1901, John constructed a large general merchandise store on two lots in town.
Eleven years later in 1912, John passed away and that year, the store burned down in a fire that wiped out almost the entire block of Front Street, which is now Atwater Boulevard.
Charles Osborn, who had attended Oakland Polytechnic Business College for two years and was now a partner in his father’s store, temporarily opened the store in Mitchell Hall in 1912, and when the Bloss Block was completed in 1913, the store and post office were moved there. The store remained there until 1932.
Meanwhile, Charles had married Mae in 1908. After John passed away, Maddie, Charles’ mother, lived with Charles and Mae until she passed on in 1931. Carol Gray of Atwater remembers from when she was a little girl that Charles and Mae were really kind people and a little on the quiet side.
Charles helped with getting Atwater incorporated in 1922. He was elected a charter member of the Atwater City Council and became Atwater’s third mayor. He was an original member of the Atwater Fire Department, and served as chief for two terms. For 20 years, Charles was the Constable of Atwater. He was a member of the Atwater Band. He took over his Uncle William Osborn’s real estate brokerage and insurance company when William served as Justice of the Peace from 1913 to 1943.
Work began on the park in 1963. The land was the old city dump and sewer plant. It took 1,200 yards of fill dirt at $.90 per yard to bring the surface 18 inches above the refuse to meet the required level.
Between 1963 and 1965, a major problem was vandalism. About 75 trees were donated by the Atwater Lions Club, Atwater Pony League, Girl Scouts and private citizens and purchased from Lawrence Silva’s Nursery on Cedar and Shaffer Roads and Stribling’s Nursery in Merced. Vandals kept breaking the trees apart. This happened at the park three times.
In June 1965, the finishing touches at the park were completed, and the ball field lights and new bleachers were installed.
Charles A. Osborn passed away at Our Lady of Merced Hospital in Merced on June 22, 1965 at the age of 77, and six days later, on June 28, Osborn Park opened.
Charles’ services were held at the Atwater First Methodist Church, and his Internment was at Winton District Cemetery. His wife, Mae, was his only surviving relative since son Benton had previously passed away.