During the closing days of the Civil War, Washington’s Schuetzen Park was opened. Schuetzen Parks were quite popular with German-American citizens at the time, and many cities throughout the U.S. had them. These facilities oftentimes were the German-American version of country clubs, where marksmanship, rather than golf, was featured.
Schuetzen Rifles are specially designed single-shot target rifles, made specifically for sport.
Between 1875-1945, this style of rifle and contest was very popular with competition shooters.
Many Schuetzen Rifles, in addition to their accuracy, were works of art that had elaborate locking systems, precision sights, double triggers, and sculptured cheek-pieces.
In addition to having a shooting-range, many Schuetzen parks also had other amenities. Many had drinking pavilions, as well as family-oriented amusements and activities. Quite frequently, Schuetzen parks also held festivals and galas, open to the general public.
Washington’s Schuetzen Park was no different. It attracted many Washingtonians of German-American ancestry, including those upwardly mobile and well-to-do.
But the park’s revelries didn’t just attract German-Americans; the park equally attracted other Americans from around the Washington DC area — including Presidents, dignitaries, and politicians.
In 1879 fire destroyed the park, but it was rebuilt the following year. It wasn’t until 1891 when the park was finally closed.
The Soldiers’ Home, another Washington DC landmark, was situated less than a mile away. New laws in the city forbade the sale of alcohol within a mile of the Home — which in turn, yielded additional challenges for any efforts to rebuild the park.
Soon after the park’s closing, the land was re-purposed, and used to help create the affluent neighborhoods of Park View, Washington D.C.
Ironically, less than 80 years after the range closed, the city of Washington D.C. abolished its citizens’ rights to gun ownership.
Pictured below is a Washington Schuetzen Park token. Listed in David E. Schenkman’s Merchant Tokens of Washington, D.C. as W35-10a, its grade is estimated at Almost Uncirculated.
It is not clear as to whether the ’10’ denotes a monetary value. Other Washington Schuetzen Park tokens in denominations of 5 and 25 exist.
Similar tokens in the same denominations exist for Baltimore as well. Schenkman provides no rarity information for any of them.
Notes and Sources
The Library of Congress Digital Archives
Washington Historical Society
Park View, Kent C. Boese, Lauri Hafvenstein, Arcadia Publishing, ©2011
The New York Times, May 18, 1967
The Los Angeles Silhouette Club