124 Alden Street

Chelsea’s memorial at St. Peter’s. [2012, Dunlap]

Chelsea Starre Earnest (1980-1993). The Nautilus Club, an influential women’s civic group, was deeply involved in efforts at the mid-20th century to establish proper playgrounds for children, who were otherwise left to play in the streets or on beaches that were much less tidy than they are today. The Nickerson Street Playground or West End Playground, as this was originally called, came about in 1949 when the owner of an idle property at 1 Bradford Street agreed to sell it for that purpose.

In 1981, Avis Johnson moved into the home of her great-grandmother, Sadie Patrick, at 8 Mechanic Street, two blocks away from the West End Playground, in which Johnson had played as a girl. She now had a 1-year-old daughter of her own, Chelsea Earnest. “The playground served her well during the remaining 12 years of her life,” Johnson recalled. “A short time after Chelsea’s tragic death in the summer of ’93, Florence Bent, a beloved kindergarten teacher and friend, petitioned the town to rename the playground in memory of Chelsea. No one in town opposed the idea. And so, to me, it will forever be ‘Chelsea’s Playground.’” And so, as you can see by the sign, will it be for everyone who passes by or stops to play.

Playground at 1 Bradford Street memorializes Chelsea. [2011, Dunlap]

In memoriam

• Find a Grave Memorial No. 106827083.

¶ Last updated on 12 December 2021.

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