PITTSFIELD — In the heart of the Morningside neighborhood, eight concrete sculptures rise from a group of 26-alphabet inspired figures on the corner of Lincoln Street and Wellington Avenue. The standing structures act as a hidden sign spelling out the name of a new literacy-themed gathering space: Kellogg Park.
“We just imagined that it would be used exactly how everyone’s using it today — which is sitting and perching on all different levels and kind of exploring and hiding behind these different forms while having an underlying theme of literacy” Tessa Kelly, the Group-AU architect behind the sculptures, said during the park’s dedication ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
A collaboration by local development group Mill Town, Group-AU and concrete company Unistress, the newly unveiled Kellogg Park marries the organizations’ dedication to childhood literacy with the personal history of Mill Town and Unistress.
“Mill Town is really dedicated to community building and capacity building for people and literacy is obviously a huge part of that for kids,” Managing Director for Mill Town Carrie Holland said. “And it’s a cause that’s really close to Dave and Gail [Mixer’s] hearts.”
Mill Town purchased the 0.1 acre site about three years ago. During the 1940s until the 1980s, the site was the family home of Veronica and Kenneth Kellogg, the grandparents of Mill Town’s founder and chairman Dave Mixer.
Mixer lent his grandparents name to the park and Unistress donated its labor and materials to create the iconic alphabet sculptures as part of a tribute to the sons of one of the company’s employees.
Twins Sylas and Kasper Stone, age 6, died in March 2019 following a fatal mobile home fire at Lake Onota Village. The fire also claimed the life of 25-year-old Austin Grzelak.
The boys’ father, Frank Stone, was part of the team of Unistress employees that cast and installed each of the statues in the park. Along with the concrete structures, the company dedicated a “book house” nestled in the cedar fence that surrounds the park in the boys’ honor.
“The twins will be remembered for their active and curious minds, artistic and creative talents, and enjoyment of nature, animals and swimming,” a dedication plaque in the book house reads.
The book house was already full of books like “Curious George,” “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “Spot Goes to School” during the park dedication event Wednesday. The little library was a contribution of Berkshire United Way.
During the dedication ceremony on Wednesday the tenacity and curiosity of the neighborhood’s children was well on display. Poems from the 2020 second-grade class at Morningside Community School are embedded into the park’s fence.
The young poets, now third-graders, were guests of honor during the dedication event and gave readings of some of the collection of poems they created last year in a poetry project with The Mastheads, a public arts and humanities project in the city.
“Everyone in second-grade worked so hard and carefully on their poems last spring and it’s just a total joy to see them up here on the walls,” Poet and Mastheads literary director Sarah Trudgeon said. “When everyone came in and saw their names, they screamed and it felt like the most exciting moment.”
“I love getting that poetry out into Pittsfield and out into the world for everyone to enjoy because it really is the most joyful writing I’ve ever read,” Trudgeon said.
The young poets captivated a crowd of proud parents and community members with their view of the world.
Morningside Community School Principal Monica Zanin said that the school plans to continue using the school as an incubator for literacy and math learning for years to come. Kellogg Park will serve as an outdoor classroom for the school.