MANSFIELD – The Save the Gate House Committee is urging area residents and supporters around the world to continue the tradition started last year by turning on your porch lights from 7-7:30 pm in honor of that historic world’s first night football game held in Mansfield’s Smythe Park 131-years ago.
“You only celebrate your 131th birthday and anniversary once,” said Brian Barden, chairperson of the Save the Gate House Committee. ”There is only one world’s first night football game and that historic event occurred right here in Smythe Park in downtown Mansfield. Remember the Night – Remember the Light by turning on your porch light is a way we can all participate and celebrate that amazing event.”
On September 28,1892 Mansfield State Normal School, now Mansfield University, hosted Wyoming Seminary of Kingston, PA in what is now universally recognized to be the World’s First Night Football game. The game was one of the events of the Great Mansfield Fair held in Smythe Park.
The General Electric Company was founded just months earlier 1892 in a merger between the Edison Electric Company and the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. GE provided the lighting powered by a Thomson-Houston dynamo that arrived on the fairgrounds by special train. Although temporary, they were the first electric lights Mansfield had seen. Mansfield borough residents would not have permanent electric lights for another five years.
The game ended in a 0-0 tie. The contest was called at halftime when the manager of the Wyoming Seminary team pulled his players from the field because of poor lighting conditions. Mansfield would not host another night football game for another 121 years later when lights were installed on Karl Van Norman Field in 2013.
According to the Save The Gatehouse website, the gate house is the only remaining building from he Great Mansfield Fair standing.
For more information on the history of the Gate House at Historic Smythe Park and how you can help save the Gate House go to savethegatehouse.org.