John T. Browning (1830–1910) was a lawyer who served as the City of Moline's first City Attorney. He was also a two-term State Assemblyman. In his last year of his life, Browning was planning on erecting a memorial to himself on the farmland that he owned when he was convinced by A. M. Beal, President of the Moline Board of Education, to deed the land to the city for use as an athletic park. On July 14, 1910, he added the codicil to his will, stating that his land were to be "held in trust forever by the City of Moline and dedicated to the public as and for a playground and athletic park, which shall be known and designated as the John T. Browning Park, Playground, and Athletic Field".
The next four years saw the creation of an American football/track and field stadium and a baseball field. In the late 1920s, T. F. Wharton, president of the Moline High School boosters' club led the drive toward the sale of bonds, the proceeds of which to pay for the construction of a field house on adjoining land (this was also deeded to the city of Moline upon the retirement of the bonds).Wharton Field House was opened to the public in 1928.