The Gate House at Smythe Park has been a part of Mansfield’s downtown since
it was constructed following the devastating flood of June 1, 1889. That flood
destroyed much of the Tioga River Valley, washing away the main exhibit
buildings and ticket office of the Great Mansfield Fair at Smythe Park. It is the
only Great Mansfield Fair structure to survive.
In 1889, the Gate House was the keystone of a determined rebuilding effort by
the Mansfield community following the adversity of the flood and creating a
new and improved community.
Over the span of its lifetime it has witnessed the playing of the world’s first
night football game in 1892, the first airplane flight in Tioga County history in
1911, and has welcomed governors and key political leaders. More
importantly, it served as the first impression and entranceway for hundreds of
thousands of visitors to the Great Mansfield Fair.
In its later years the building continued to serve the greater Mansfield area,
hosting offices for the Chamber of Commerce, an art gallery, thrift shop and
headquarters for Santa’s Gift Bag. It has been unused for the last decade.
This year, the Save the Gate House at Smythe Park Committee has worked with
the Southern Tioga School District to secure a long-term lease on the property
while partnering with MAC (Mansfield Auxiliary Corporation) and Mansfield
Borough to develop a comprehensive plan to repair and renovate the Gate
House at Smythe Park along with the restoration of the historic gates.
Additionally, an arched sign spanning the entrance way to historic Smythe Park
identifying it as the site of the World’s First Night Football Game will be
To date, the Save the Gate House at Smythe Park Committee has received
commitments of $60,000 to start the renovation project. A new roof was
installed this spring and plans are currently in progress to rebuild and elevate
the building’s foundation.
We envision the renovated Gate House and Smythe Park along with the new
arch and reconstructed gate serving as a point of pride for our community. It
will offer gathering space for meetings, events and displays. A key feature will
be an exhibit of the history of the World’s First Night Football game, serving as
a tourist attraction in the downtown Mansfield area.
Be part of making history – support Save the Gate House at Smythe Park.
Images Copyright The History Center on Main Street