St. Charles Green Is Now Bernice Pyke Park
Lakewood formally dedicated a new public park named for suffragist Bernice Pyke on August 18, the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Most of the park property—bordered by St. Charles and Belle Avenues, downtown, and the railroad—has been city-owned for decades. Informally known as the St. Charles Green, residents have spent years pursuing official park status.
Councilperson Tristan Rader, who emcee’d the ribbon cutting ceremony, recalled that upon moving next door several years ago, his first visitor was a neighbor collecting signatures to protect the space as a park.
Rader and other elected officials spoke of the accomplishments of Pyke, a Lakewood resident who helped win the right to vote for Lakewood women in 1917, and to pass the 19th amendment to the Constitution, recognizing women’s suffrage nationally.
John Pyke, Jr. said that in 1912, suffragists stood outside polling places on Election Day to promote their cause, and “my grandmother joined them and never looked back.”
Besides her advocacy for women’s suffrage, Pyke recalled his grandmother as a co-founder of Lakewood’s hospital and library, a board of education member, owner of a bookstore on Cove Avenue, the first woman delegate to the Democratic National Convention in history, and the first woman to run for mayor in Lakewood.
Other guests from City Council and the Ohio General Assembly also spoke, including State Senator Nickie Antonio, and State Rep. Mike Skindell, who presented John Pyke, Jr. with an official proclamation from the state legislature.
Mayor Meghan George read excerpts from a history of Pyke’s career, written for the Lakewood Observer in 2012 by her late father, former Mayor Tom George.
George also acknowledged the long struggle for voting rights which continued after ratification of the 19th amendment, and said that “There is still so much to do.”
Concluding her remarks on Pyke, Mayor George said “Let’s honor her memory by continuing to identify inequality and injustice” and promote inclusion.
Matt Kuhns is a freelance graphic designer, and occasional author.