The Rededication of Historic Emancipation Park

Buffalo Soldiers Houston presentation of Colors.

On June 17, during Houston’s annual Juneteenth celebration, Emancipation Park was rededicated in front of thousands of Third Ward residents. KHOU’s Len Cannon and ABC 13’s Melanie Lawson emceed the affair, which officially commemorated the historic park’s $33.6 million renovation.

At the celebration, the Kinder Foundation, together with fellow funders OST/Almeda Redevelopment Corridors TIRZ #7, Emancipation Park Conservancy, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Houston Endowment, Timken Foundation of Canton, and the City of Houston, joined Mayor Sylvester Turner in recognizing this revitalization effort as “an example of how public private partnerships working together can make dramatic differences in a neighborhood park.”

“Set to become the showplace of the predominantly black Third Ward,” according to OffCite, the improvements were led by Philip Freelon, one of the most preeminent black architects in the country. A new recreation center, a renovated community center, a replaced swimming pool, upgraded baseball field, tennis and basketball courts, an entry plaza, a splash pad, a playground, walking trail, porch-like covered areas, several picnic areas, and additional parking were all meant to create a beautiful and functional park for the residents of the Third Ward, to be a catalyst for local development, and to become a draw for national and international visitors.

City officials and partners gather to commemorate the re-dedication. First Row: U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee ; Judge Zinetta Burney, Board Chair OST/ ALMEDA Corridors Redevelopment Authority TIRZ #7; Representative Garnet F. Coleman; Mayor Sylvester Turner; Rich Kinder; Nancy Kinder; Ann Stern; Council Member Dwight Boykins Back Row: Ramon Manning, Chairman Emancipation Park Conservancy Board of Directors and Philip Freelon, FAIA, Perkins+Will, Lead Design Architect for Emancipation Park

The park began as 10 acres of land purchased in 1872 by Reverend Jack Yates, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, and Reverend Elias Dibble to serve as a gathering place for former slaves living in the Third and Fourth Wards to commemorate the anniversary of their emancipation (“Juneteenth”). To read more about Emancipation Park’s restoration, click here.