Lentil Park -- at the northwest corner of High Street and Riverfront Plaza (North Front Street ) in Hamilton -- commemorates a mythical boy who grew up in Hamilton Author Robert McCloskey, born and educated in Hamilton, recalled his boyhood in Lentil, a boy about 10 or 11 years old who lives in a typical Midwestern town, the fictional Alto, Ohio. The New York Times called it "a book that, along with its fun, truly illustrates the American scene." Lentil is one of three McCloskey works labeled his 'Midwest boy books,' reflecting his boyhood in Hamilton. The others are Homer Price and Centerburg Tales.
Sept. 21, 2001, the life-size sculptures of harmonica-playing Lentil and his dog, Harmony, were unveiled in the new park, formerly the site of the Court Theater. The sculptures by Nancy Schon were sponsored by the Hamilton Community Foundation. As a teenager, McCloskey worked at the Hamilton YMCA and Camp Campbell Gard. During two summers the 1932 Hamilton High School graduate transformed a wooden beam into a colorful totem pole, a camp landmark for decades. The totem pole was so impressive that it led to a commission for work on the former Hamilton municipal building. McCloskey designed the bas reliefs for the structure that opened in 1935. McCloskey, born in Hamilton Sept. 15, 1914, and died June 30, 2003, on Deer Isle, Maine, his home for many years.
(See Centerburg and Hamilton Municipal Building.)