A Brief History of Leddy Park

Before the 1770’s little is known about the land that Leddy Park occupies, but given the elevated bluff and sandy beach it is assumed that the area was frequented by Abenaki Indians, who are known to have settlements along the Winooski or Onion River.  It is known; however, that in 1773 Ira Allen surveyed the lakefront from the Onion River south to the La Platte River in Shelburne Bay,  and his survey would have included the land that’s now Leddy Park.  It may also have been that the land at Leddy was part of a grant to a Tory who lost the land when it was confiscated by the Republic of Vermont in 1777.

What is known of land ownership is that at the end of the 19th century the land at Leddy was owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, as they sold or granted a right-of-way through the land to the Rutland Railroad in 1899.  This right-of-way is now the Burlington Bike Path.  And, in 1902 the Diocese sold 73 acres to the Lowell Fertilizer Company, a Maine corporation, which in 1927 was renamed Consolidated Rendering Company, and later was known as “Corenco”.

In November 1970 the City of Burlington acquired the land for the park, 75 acres with 1550 feet of lakefront beach, from Consolidated Rendering (Corenco) by eminent domain, at a cost of $355,000.  The park was initially called “Wabanaki” from the Abenaki word for “thanksgiving”, and then in 1972 it was renamed in honor of the late Judge Bernard J. Leddy, who had been a long time Park Commissioner and was instrumental in acquiring the land for the Park.

Initial development of the Park involved the construction of a lighted softball field, four Little League fields, lighted tennis courts, handball courts, a parking lot and playground area.  Later development (1973) included the construction of a combined ice arena and bathhouse, which was dedicated to Gordan H. Paquette, then the Mayor of Burlington; basketball court, additional playground/picnic area and a stairway to the beach, which opened in 1974.  The more recent developments have been the expansion and conversion of the Little League fields into multi-use soccer fields and the recognition of the numerous walking trails throughout the forested areas of Leddy.