Members of Save CR Heritage saw snippets of the city’s history on a tour of the Softball Hall of Fame and dinner at the landmark Flamingo restaurant during the group’s inaugural Friday Night Meetup.
The event, on Friday, Aug. 17, was the first in a series of meetups that meld history with networking for preservation advocates.
Rick Sampson and Janet Sargent, members and volunteers with the Softball Hall of Fame, explained the stories behind the vintage jerseys, photos, trophies and other memorabilia to members of Save CR Heritage during the tour.
The site, at Ellis Park in Cedar Rapids, was inundated during the 2008 flood. Many of the photos have since been replaced, while the organization is still searching for replacements of others.
“Our entire picture collection was washed away,” said Sargent, one of more than 260 members of the Softball Hall of Fame. “We all came and picked things up and did what we could.”
Most of the trophies and other items were restored, including the oldest, a 1927 trophy, said Sampson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his work as a radio announcer.
Vintage jerseys and team photos at the Hall of Fame offer a retrospective of longtime businesses in Cedar Rapids that sponsored softball teams, such as the former Wilson & Co. meatpacking plant, and the Fleck’s Falstaff team, which dominated the sport over the years.
“What we have here is 100 years of history,” Sampson said.
The building is located between a ball diamond and the Ellis Park pool, just off of Ellis Boulevard NW in a prime location, he noted, but because of the risk of flooding, the group hopes to relocate to higher ground in the park.
“We don’t want to move out of Ellis Park,” Sampson added. “This is the shrine of softball.”
The building does not hold regular hours, but will be open to the public during the Softball Hall of Fame Days, on Saturday, Aug. 25, and Sunday, Aug. 26.
Thrust into a similar situation during the 2008 flood, the family-owned Flamingo restaurant, which originally opened in 1948, reopened in 2010 and sports photos of scenes of Cedar Rapids from bygone eras.
Co-owner Ron Godwin said the family did hands-on work to restore The Flamingo, at 1211 Ellis Blvd. NW, after the flood.
Currently, the site is open to the public for dinner from 4-9 p.m. Fridays only, and operates as an event center for weddings and other occasions the rest of the week.
Save CR Heritage plans more Friday Night Meetups on a quarterly basis at museums and other sites of historic significance, paired with nearby local restaurants. Watch the Save CR Heritage Facebook page for future dates and locations.
See other images from Save CR Heritage’s first Friday Night Meetup: