Mrs. Lotta Martz – Park 58

Not many parks in Detroit named for the ladies..only a few more after this one.. 


Lotta Martz
Lotta Martz in pearls around the age of 66. Photo: Detroit Free Press, 1934.

Carlotta ‘Lotta’ Blackwell Martz (1868 – 1959) was born to Irish immigrant parents John and Mary.  Her father is reported as being Detroit’s first Irish police officer in the 1870’s.
Described as tall and striking, Lotta led an active life as a club woman in turn of the century Detroit.  She was a charter member of the Catholic Women’s League and longtime president of the Wayne County Republican Women’s Club.  In 1914, the Detroit City charter went under revision and a ten member recreation commission was born.  Martz was appointed and notably became the first woman recreation commissioner.  During her tenure, the Detroit Department of Parks and Boulevards began to gain national recognition.

playground / picnic shelter photo
The renovated shelter is a great attribute to Martz playfield attracting family gatherings and heavy use. Every time I have passed by the garbage cans are full.
Martz park looking west n an overcast Detroit day. Pretty dandelions, perfect for bee pollination.
Martz park looking west. Needs a mow. An overcast Detroit day.

Strong and controversial in her views, Lotta openly admitted that she refused to work for women’s suffrage during the early 1900’s.  She supported strong family life over women in public office.  In the 1950’s she commented, “I hate to say so but I don’t think the women’s vote has changed things much.  And I’m not sure women do enough good in public office to make up for the increasing breakup of the family.” 


She married “Holiday Bill” Martz (1887-1940) in 1896 and they raised 3 boys – Lyall, Clifford and Floyd.  Bill Martz was a Wayne County Sheriff and became a State of Michigan legislator [1911-1918] who was publicly described as an immaculate dresser [complete with cane]; a champion life of the party, and had a cigar named for him. He was nicknamed for introducing bills to award police and firefighters extra days off from duty.  He died in 1940.

William H. Martz appointed as Deupty Sheriff Wayne County by Jimmy Burns. Served 6 years in this position. Caricature 1925; loose sheet publication unknown.
William H. Martz appointed as Deupty Sheriff Wayne County by Jimmy Burns. Served 6 years in this position. Caricature 1925; loose sheet publication unknown.

Lotta Martz spent her final years living in the storied Carmel Hall at 2560 Woodward at Adelaide.  [Click that link for a really really good story about that former hotel.]  In 1955, the former Hotel Detroiter morphed into a senior living center owned by the Detroit Catholic Archdiocese and run by the Carmelite Sisters.  Lotta found camaraderie among the other residents.  She made certain “the girls had absentee ballots to vote” and enjoyed working the Ouija board, although she had difficulty getting others to join her, “they just want to play cards”, she remarked.


In an interview on her 90th birthday, she indicated raising her family was her most important achievement.  She died at Providence Hospital in November 1959 at the age of 92.  She rests in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Martz Playground is just down the street from the Detroit City Airport. Up in the left hand corner is a little green rectangle that’s Frank Fascko’s abandoned playground and we’ll discuss him soon. Thanks to google for the map.

In February 1960, the Flanders – Elmo Playground was renamed as Lotta Martz Memorial Playfield.  Today, this playground hosts soccer games and practices in the warm weather. It features updated signage, fencing, picnic shelter and play equipment clocking in around 3 acres.  It is eastside located at St. Patrick and Gunston Street.

Again thanks for reading.. andreag © 2015.