Sanford’s prominent Gowen family arrived in town around 1770, eventually building a family homestead on Main Street. After the deaths of Edward Gowen in 1924 and his sister Martha in 1930, the 20-acre property was willed to the town, to be improved with a bandstand and named Gowen Memorial Park.
In the 1930s landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff was hired to design the park. He proposed a Colonial Revival landscape with a gazebo, stone walls and steps, terraces at several levels, and shrub borders. He also proposed a series of zig-zagged paths which were unbuilt due to the site’s steep hillside terrain. In 1937 the town built Shurcliff’s proposed stone gazebo high above the Number One Pond, which was a mill pond in the Mousam River. They also installed stone walls capped with granite slabs, bluestone steps, a planting bed with a flagpole, and terraces at street level and below, all of which remain today. Today the park also has a modern picnic pavilion, tennis courts, woodland paths, and a concrete seating wall along the pond. The park and pond are used for winter sports and water skiing, walking, festivals, and farmer’s markets. The park also serves as the beginning of the Mousam Way Trail, which extends nine miles along the Mousam River and through neighboring urban areas.