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Best kept little secret in town

By Staff | Apr 18, 2014

Viola Devonshire Commemorative Park has been sitting on the east side of Shepherdstown for nearly two decades, but many people have yet to find this well kept local secret.

Judy Kernek, former member of Shepherdstown’s Parks and Recreation committee, is hoping to change that.

The little park which sits just over the train tracks on East German Street, near the Christ Reformed Church, was the second community park established in Shepherdstown.

It sits on small piece of land once owned by Blanche Washington, who donated it to the town in 1988 in memory of her Aunt, Viola Devonshire.

Devonshire was active in community service and served as member of the Asbury Methodist Church.

“She was a single woman. She raised a lot of kids in this town and… one of the people she raised was this woman, Blanche Washington,” Kernek said.

Kernek was put in charge of finally bringing the park to life in the year 2000, shortly after moving to town and joining the Parks and Recreation committee, she explained.

Kernek said that over 50 volunteers labored on two boiling weekends in May to bring the park together for use.

“There were people- black, white, green, Chinese, everybody was here with shovels digging, digging, digging,” she said.

Entirely fenced in and handicap accessible, the park contains a half basketball court and playground area with swings, a slide, picnic tables, a bench and a grill.

Kernek said the park has its own unique history, that many people are unaware of.

A large tree standing in front of the park was planted in honor of Newton Washington, who served as the first black town council member in Shepherdstown.

Many donated trees line the park, each marked by a commemorative plaque informing visitors of the park’s special meaning.

Kernek said it is her dream to see more kids and families making use of the space.

“I would love to come over here someday and see people actually grilling hamburgers and kids playing,” she said.