• Essay Project 2021

Essay Project 2021: The Portland Bandshell


By: Destiny Foltz


“Good we must love, and must hate ill, For ill is ill, and good still; But there are things indifferent, which we may neither hate, nor love, but one, and then another prove, as we shall find our fancy bent,”(Donne). Community brings people together through our similarities and differences. We come together to collaborate and express ourselves. The Portland Bandshell is a great place for collaboration and self-expression. Some find enjoyment in performing here, while others enjoy the whole atmosphere. This includes either the views, food or the company of new people to talk to. Because of the community and atmosphere along with it, there are many great stories about The Portland Bandshell.


My grandfather was in a band that played at The Bandshell for close to a decade as I was growing up. I remember creating several lasting memories at this establishment. During summer, I would go and dance to music while eating ice cream with my friends. When I reminisce on these memories, it makes me think of simpler times. When I had no worries in the world except for when my Popou, Greek for Grandpa, was on the stage. I was always in the front row dancing my heart out. Now that he’s gone, I’d like to share the legacy of this park and the impact it has on our community and others around us.


The Bandshell was built around 17 years ago and many people have enjoyed it since. Fleis And Vandenbrink of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association gave the venue an award. “Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) awarded “Two Rivers Park” for Outstanding Landscape Design Award in 2004.” This was just after it was built! With live music in the summer and many food vendors within a mile, how could people not love it? Louise Foltz states in an interview, “The Bandshell is a happy place”, and her favorite memory was “listening to her husband play music there.” A few people went on to say how the music “saved” them during the pandemic. As Tim mentions in the survey, “This summer, it was one of the very few places in the area where people could congregate. It probably saved a few people from going stir crazy,” I think most people could agree with this statement. Music goes a long way, and it can really help some people, especially during a global pandemic.


A sense of comfort and community are not the only interesting aspects of this location. The Portland Michigan History Facebook page states that in 1835, the first settlers came to Portland. In the area between the Looking Glass River and the Grand River were an Indian village and apple orchard that later turned into a burial ground. “This Indian Burial ground was preserved and protected by Almeron Newman while he lived. His woolen mill, which stood near and on the same property, was sold to out-of-town interests during the 1800s. As the industrial age took hold, family customs and land values changed. It is likely that the townspeople forgot about the Indians and their value to early pioneer families, such as the Newmans,” as stated by The Portland Michigan History Facebook page. This area is now known as The Two Rivers Park, also known as The Bandshell. This is something I did not even know until recently. Who knew there was such history just beneath our town Bandshell?


The Michigan Main Street program was created about 15 years ago, with Portland being in the first class of local communities to join. There are 21 Main Street communities in Michigan to this day. There are over 2,000 designated Main Street American neighborhoods and communities across the country. Main Street communities create high-quality places to build stronger communities through preservation-based development, as stated by The Portland Beacon. The Main Street program involves many of our parks and local businesses, including The Two Rivers Park and Bandshell. This is another aspect that brings in non-locals, while also bringing the locals together as a community.


All in all, The Portland Bandshell is a great place to come together and there are some pretty interesting historical facts too. Whether you like music, a nice view, or just a stroll in the park, The Bandshell is full of great memories and activities for everyone. The sense of community in our small town is so big, and this establishment is one of our biggest contributors. Thank you, Parks and Recreation.


Downtown, Portland. “MICHIGAN MAIN STREET PROGRAM AND PORTLAND DOWNTOWN CELEBRATE 15 YEARS OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.” The, The-Portland-Beacon, 18 July 2018, www.theportlandbeacon.com/single-post/2018/07/18/michigan-main-street-program-and-portland-downtown-celebrate-15-years-of-community-develo.

Donne, John. “Community Poems - Poems For Community - Poem Hunter.” PoemHunter.com, www.poemhunter.com/poems/Community/page-1/22409201/.

“2004 MRPA Outstanding Landscape Design Award: ‘Two Rivers Park’ - Portland, MI.” Fleis & VandenBrink, 26 Feb. 2004, www.fveng.com/2004-mrpa-outstanding-landscape-design-award-two-rivers-park-portland-mi/.

Received by Louise Foltz, Portland Bandshell, 4 Dec. 2020.

Foltz, Destiny. “Portland Bandshell Survey.” SurveyMonkey, 4 Dec. 2020, www.surveymonkey.com/r/J5RQS2F.

“Portland Michigan History.” Facebook, www.facebook.com/PortlandMichigan/.



This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.

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