Potter Park Golf Club, 417 New London Road, Hamilton, was the result of the generosity and civic spirit of Ellis M. Potter (1849-1929). It was Hamilton's first public golf course. In the 1890s, Potter invested in land on the West Side with the intention of building a factory. At the same time, he sought the city's permission to buy a horse-drawn streetcar line, explaining that he planned to modernize it by converting to electric power. Neither project excited city fathers. When officialdom failed to respond, Potter took his money and left town. Despite that rebuff, he tried again about three years later. This time, he offered land for a public park. He got a reply, but not an acceptance. City leaders said they couldn't accept the donation because they couldn't afford to develop the park.
Over the next 30 years, the Hamilton native succeeded as a businessman, investing in profitable operations based in both Cincinnati and New York. Most of his businesses processed & marketed baking powder, spices, tea and coffee. Friends said he never forgot his boyhood home and -- despite rejections by city leaders -- always professed his love for Hamilton, and a desire to do something for its citizens. In 1925 he made another offer to the city -- a gift of 100 acres of undeveloped land once owned by his grandfather. He had roamed its woods and streams as a boy. The offer came with some stipulations -- (1) the city had take quick action, and, (2) develop the scenic acreage into a municipal golf course. A public fund campaign raised $15,000 from about 4,000 people, enabling the city to earn Potter's donation. Nine holes of the course formally opened May 26, 1927, with the second nine completed Oct. 5, 1927. Ellis M. Potter had never played golf -- and at the age of 75 didn't plan to start -- but he believed Hamilton needed a golf course. He said his business experience and personal observations had convinced him that in the 1920s, for a city to grow and prosper, it needed a municipal golf course. In 1927, Potter made another contribution to the city -- a strip of land 100 feet wide that was to be used for the first part of the city's planned boulevard system. At first it was called Potter Drive -- later renamed Washington Boulevard. Ellis Potter, age 80, died Nov. 23, 1929, in his New York City residence in 1929, two years after the opening of Potter Park municipal golf course. (Also see entries for Forest Hills and Miami Woods.)