History of Gibbons Park
Gibbons Park, named in honor of Robert Linus Gibbons, was dedicated during ceremonies conducted on May 19, 1979. Mr. Gibbons, whose grandparents came to the area from Massachusetts in a covered wagon, was a member of the second graduating class of the University of California at Davis in 1913, at which time it was known as the University Farm School. In 1914, he married. The marriage lasted 53 years, until his death in 1966 at the age of 73. Maude Gibbons attended the dedication ceremonies, accompanied by several members of her family.
The Gibbons family came to the Carmichael area in 1921, where they became involved in the ranching and dairy business. The family sold milk directly from the farm until the retail store, Gibbons Dairy located on Walnut Avenue, opened in 1964. They owned 130 acres in the community where Mr. Gibbons was very active in civic affairs, giving of his time and energy to help make the community a better place to live. He was a charter member of the Carmichael Presbyterian Church and a member of the Carmichael Rotary Club, the Masonic Order, the Board of Trustees of the Carmichael School District, and the Carmichael Farm Bureau. He was also founder and president of the former Northridge Water District.
Within Gibbons Park is a remnant of the grove of almond and olive trees that the board has designated as the Leif Owre Grove. On June 28, 1980, the district and the Ronald Amundsen Lodge #48 of the Sons of Norway conducted ceremonies dedicating the grove in honor of the memory of Leif Owre, who was president of the lodge in 1929, 30, 31, and 35. Mr. Owen was a former owner of the land where he and his brothers, Anders and Alfred, planted and harvested crops of hay and wheat and tended horses and cattle. The family planted olive and almond trees that greatly enhanced the beauty of the park, until the 1990’s when they succumbed to age and disease. Mr. Owre was involved in community and church activities and was an innovator and avid supporter of youth programs in the area.
The open space site at 4701 Gibbons Drive was purchased for $100,000 in 1973 from the school district as a ten-acre parcel and originally designated a neighborhood park. In 1978, the district acquired an additional seven and one half acres of abandoned freeway property (known as Route 143) from the California Department of Transportation for $281,468, which expanded the park acreage from Gibbons Drive to Cypress Avenue. The 17.5 acre site became the largest park in the district.
In the 1979-80 fiscal year, a master plan for the additional 7.5 acres was prepared for the board’s approval by the county Department of Parks and Recreation’s Planning Division. The plan included the re-designation from a neighborhood to a community park, and provided for a 12,000 square foot senior citizen/community center on the original ten acres. The center was completed in 1982, at a cost of $826,987.
The center includes a club room, a crafts room, a large auditorium, a kitchen, offices and counseling rooms, a four-lane shuffleboard court, restrooms, patio, and a 72-space parking lot. An exercise course designed for senior citizen use was provided next to the center.