Emancipation Park (Houston)
Emancipation Park and Emancipation Community Center are located at 3018 Emancipation Ave in the Third Ward area of Houston. It is the oldest park in Houston, and the oldest in Texas. In portions of the Jim Crow period it was the sole public park available to African-Americans.
In 1872, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, Jack Yates, and Elias Dibble together bought 4 acres (1.6 ha) of parkland with $800 ($17073.33 in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars). The men, led by Yates, were members of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church. They did this to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. As the owners lacked funds to keep the park open year-round, it was originally solely used for Juneteenth celebrations. The park received its current name in 1872.
The City of Houston received the park in 1916 as part of a donation; the city converted it into a municipal park in 1918. From 1922 to 1940 it was Houston's sole park for African-Americans, since the city government had declared its parks racially segregated in 1922. Many concerts, musical performances, and Juneteenth celebrations were held in Emancipation Park.
In 1938–1939, the Public Works Administration constructed a recreation center, swimming pool, and bathhouse, designed by prominent Houston architect William Ward Watkin, in the park. The buildings have been used for after-school and summer programs for children, community meetings, and classes for youth and adults.
In 2006, Carol Parrott Blue and Bill Milligan, natives of the Third Ward, formed "Friends of Emancipation Park" in order to revitalize the park. The board was established in March 2007. On November 7, 2007 the Houston City Council declared the park a historic landmark after it voted unanimously to do so.
In 2011, the city government planned to establish a capital campaign to install new facilities at the park. It spent $2 million in its own money and secured $4 million in funding from the local government corporation OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority as well as $1 million in funding from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 2012, Mayor of Houston Annise Parker made requests for donations in order to secure additional funding. The renovation project had a cost of $33 million. Groundbreaking occurred on Saturday, October 26, 2013.
In 2016, the City of Houston Planning Commission passed a resolution to have Dowling Avenue, a street bordering Emancipation Park named after Confederate soldier Richard W. Dowling, renamed to Emancipation Avenue. In January 2017, Houston City Council voted unanimously to legally designate Emancipation Avenue.
In 2017, $33.6 million worth of renovations and new developments were completed to modernize the park.
The community center includes an indoor gymnasium, a weight room, and meeting rooms. The park has an outdoor basketball pavilion, lighted sports fields, lighted tennis courts, a swimming pool, a playground, and picnic areas.
The 2010s renovated facilities were designed by a North Carolina black architect, Phil Freelon. Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly described him as "arguably" the "most prominent" American black architect. The new facilities include a playground, a swimming pool, and a performance hall.
There is a historical marker that was dedicated in 2009.
- Blue, Carol Parrott. "Emancipation is a Park" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. 9 (3): 15–19.
- "communitylist1.gif Archived 2007-03-03 at the Wayback Machine." City of Houston. Retrieved on April 13, 2009.
- Blue, p. 18.
- Swartz, Mimi (October 2015). "Green Acres". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
- "Third Ward's Emancipation Park designated historic landmark". Houston Chronicle. 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- "Emancipation Park to receive $33 million renovation". Houston Chronicle. Cypress Creek Mirror. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- Wood, Roger. Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292786638, 9780292786639. p. 82.
- Turner, Allan. "UH exhibit focuses on Third Ward history, people." Houston Chronicle. March 23, 2011. Retrieved on March 24, 2011.
- Blue, p. 15-16.
- Blue, p. 15.
- "Emancipation Park WRITTEN HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA." Library of Congress. Retrieved on March 3, 2017. p. 8 of 11.
- "Houston City Council Meeting Agenda, November 7, 2007" (PDF). City of Houston. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- Gray, Lisa (2013-11-01). "Friends of Emancipation Park hope renovation revitalizes neighborhood". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-04.
- "EMANCIPATION PARK NO LONGER HOME TO JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS". Houston Chronicle. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
- Blue, p. 17.
- Friedburg, Jennifer (2007-11-19). "Emancipation Park designated a protected historic landmark". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- Moran, Chris (2011-09-21). "Big plans for Emancipation Park". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
- Moran, Chris (2012-06-19). "Mayor will seek donations to make over Emancipation Park". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
- Begley, Dug (2016-10-28). "City planners approve ditching Dowling Street for Emancipation Avenue". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
- Kinney, Morgan (July 18, 2017). "What Happens When You Change a Street Name?". Houstonia.
- Rice, Jen (2019-05-09). "7 Houston Landmarks Earn United Nations Historical Designation". Houston Public Media. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
- "Emancipation Community Center." City of Houston. Retrieved on April 13, 2009.
- Gonzales, J.R. (2009-06-22). "Marker dedication at Emancipation Park". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- "Audio Tour of Emancipation Park and Dowling Street". Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. 2011.
- "Protected Landmark Designation Report: Emancipation Park." City of Houston. Accepted July 30, 2007.
- "Editorial: Emancipation Park is a special place". Houston Chronicle. 2011-10-25.
- "Editorial: Emancipation Park deserves national stature". Houston Chronicle. 2012-06-22.
- Ocampo, Mary Anne and James Buckley. "Emancipation Park Neighborhood: Strategies for Community-Led Regeneration in the Third Ward" - MIT Urban Planning, Spring 2016
- Some content is derived from Third Ward, Houston.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emancipation Park (Houston).|
- Official Emancipation Park website
- Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) No. TX-7, "Emancipation Park, 3018 Dowling Street, Houston, Harris County, TX", 11 data pages
- "Scenes from Emancipation Park." Houston Chronicle.