The Kiwanis Oval has been a fixture in Caldwell for so long that it seems hard to imagine a time when it didn't exist. But, as with all aspects of the built history of our town, it came about as a result of the dreams, hard work, fundraising, and political and civic cooperation of many.
The image seen here, from the archives of the Collerd Collection in the Local History Collection of the Caldwell Public Library, was taken by one Eric Dixon using a glass plate negative and "View" camera; we don't know the date the image was taken, but it was most likely before the end of the 1920's, when glass plate negatives started to lose popularity to the newer films being produced on acetate bases, which were much less breakable than brittle glass negatives.
Mr. Dixon must have set up his camera in what is now the outfield of the Oval's baseball diamond, looking towards the Municipal complex and Bloomfield Avenue...obviously when he took this picture there was no artificial turf covering the ground or light towers to brighten the night sky as it does now!
Visible are (from left): The home and outbuildings of the Provost family home (now the site of the Municipal Building, Community Center and Library), the First Baptist Church, and the Provost's barn. If you look closely, you can also make out a small home next to the Church, now demolished. Surrounding the Provost home are what appear to be a privy (aka outhouse), tool sheds, and a well head for drawing water. Provost Square is named in recognition of the family.
If you have any information to add (such as the date the Oval was developed into a ball field, who Mr. Dixon was, who was instrumental in getting the Oval built, etc., etc.) please add here or contact me at the Library.
Bruce White, Collection Archivist
Caldwell Public Library