Boardman Park is the proud owner of eight acres and a converted stable. The land and structure was given to the park through an estate and as research was done, it was discovered to have a strong Poland Township tie.
The structure and property were actually donated to the park in 1994 under a life estate. The owner, Janie Jenkins, who was also a board member for the park, agreed to donate the land and continue living on the property. She passed away in May of 2012 and the former stable and property was turned over to the park.
In researching the property, it was found to be part of the Southern Park Racing Plant. Plant was a name used for horse racing tracks in the 1800s. The Southern Park race track was operated into the early 1900s and was said to be one of the finest tracks around, according to Boardman Park Executive Director Dan Slagle. It encompassed 50 acres from Washington Boulevard to McClurg Road and between Southern Boulevard and Market Street. The present Boardman Township Government complex lies on a good chunk of the original Southern Park property.
The Poland tie comes from the stable that is part of the Jenkins property donation. According to Slagle, the race track had three large stables nearby that were owned by prominent businessmen in the area. H.H. Stambaugh owned property to the north side of Washington Boulevard where he built a large stable for his horses. A second stable was built on neighboring property owned by then-Sen. David Tod, another horse enthusiast.
The third stable was built by David Arrel, a member of a prominent Poland Township family. Slagle said he was an attorney as well as being a horse fancier. The three men were likely members of the Southern Park Trotting Association and all three were known for breeding and owning quality race horses.
The Southern Park track operated into the mid 1920s. It hosted large crowds for the horse racing which was the type that race at the Canfield Fairgrounds today. It originally had vehicle parking in the center of the track, but as automobiles became more popular, the parking became a problem. One other way to reach it was by trolley on the Youngstown and Southern Railway that runs along Southern Boulevard.
After the track closed, Slagle said Clarence Smith Sr. bought most of the property. Eight acres, which included Arrel's stable, was purchased by Jenkins and her brother. The stable was transformed into a residential home, but maintained the look of the original structure on the outside.
Now that it is in the hands of the park, which officially happened in July, it will be preserved forever. Slagle said what purpose it will serve is still unknown at this point.
"It is on the National Registry of Historic Places," he said. "And under the deed we are mandated to preserve it. We are looking at what will be its best use."
In any case, the stable will be preserved as a landmark to what once was the premier trotting track in Mahoning County.