For over sixty years, ending in the condemnation of the property and construction of the Haverstraw Public School in 1936, the Circus field and later Eckersons field was the home to almost every outdoor sport and community activity in the Village of Haverstraw.
By the end of the 1870’s, the inland clay pits of Derbyshire, BJ Allison, Eckerson, and Archer were tapped out, some of the pits becoming local garbage dumps. At the same time, the Eckerson Estate was in probate, tenants on their holdings were being evicted, and many of the smaller parcels were going to tax auction.
The largest parcel, that north east of the Erie yard, remained vacant for so long the community just squatted on the land and built their field of dreams. There are several parcels in the Village that were acquired by the community over the years this way, the brickyards long gone and the property in bad condition. Often right of ways or easements were granted just to clean up the mess.
Eckersons was the home field of the Haverstraw High School and in it’s day, was a top notch ball park. It was maintained by a loose organization of local baseball clubs, who along with the Elks Club, the Knights of Columbus, and later the Sons of Italy, were to build and maintain fences, gates, and a grandstand that could seat 500.
The front gate and ticket booth were at the western end of Lincoln Street, the grandstand facing north, towards St. Peters School. Center field was around Horans store and Partition Street was out of the park.
Home to almost every circus, carnival, and fireworks show held in the village, the field was booked years in advance with top notch entertainments. Only a block from the Erie station, the circus train would unload and set up in a matter of hours, with hundreds of spectators getting a free show.
The Fourth of July, Columbus Day, Labor Day, and Washington’s Birthday were booked by the clubs for carnivals, fairs, and parades. Fireworks were a regular attraction all summer long, the railroad bringing thousands of people regularly to the shows.