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Emancipation Park – A Historical Timeline

Land Purchased In 1872

June 19, 1872

Land Purchased In 1872

Sparked by the desire to have a place to commemorate the anniversary of their emancipation (“Juneteenth”), community members (all former slaves) in the Third and Fourth Wards led by Reverend JackYates, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, and Reverend Elias Dibble united to raise $1,000 in 1872 to purchase 10 acres of…

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De-Ro-Loc No-tsu-oh: 1909

November 1, 1909

The park was the home of the first De-ro-loc No-tsu-oh (“colored Houston” spelled backwards) carnival in 1909. The carnival was patterned after the No-tsu-oh carnival, and included attractions such as a Wild West show and a football game between Prairie View and Bishop Colleges.

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Park Donated To The City – 1916

January 1, 1916

After changes to the tax code and issues surrounding ownership, the Park was donated to the City of Houston in 1916. Initially, the Park was merely an open field with a race track around the perimeter and an open-air pavilion in the center.

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Additions From Great Depression – 1938

January 1, 1938

In 1938-39, the Great Depression’s Public Works Administration (PWA) constructed on the park site, a recreation center, swimming pool and bathhouse designed by prolific Houston architect William Ward. The landscape plan, by Hare & Hare of Kansas City, Missouri, was rendered in pencil on tissue paper. It was originally drawn…

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Major Renovation – 1974

January 1, 1974

Urban redevelopment cleaved the Third Ward from the City of Houston via the 59 South Freeway thereby creating a physical barrier and an imbalance in development and gentrification. This combined with general desegregation lead to the neglect of the Third Ward and Emancipation Park, with the last major renovation to Emancipation Park occuring in…

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Rev. Jack Yates Dedication – 1976

June 1, 1976

Rev. Jack Yates Dedication – 1976

In 1976, the Association for Study of Afro-American Life and History donated a plaque dedicated to Rev. Yates, which is displayed at the entrance to the community center.

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Friends of Emancipation Park – 2006

June 19, 2006

In 2006 Carol Pratt 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.

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Park Preserved As Historic Landmark – 2007

November 7, 2007

Under the Houston Historic Preservation Ordinance, Houston City Council voted unanimously to designate the park a protected historic landmark, due in large part to the efforts of the Friends of Emancipation Park to lobby for the ordinance.

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Historical Marker Designation – 2009

June 19, 2009

Historical Marker Designation – 2009

The Friends of Emancipation Park unveiled the parks Official State of Texas Historic Marker as part of the 2009 Juneteenth Celebrations.

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Freelon Group Selected – 2010

August 1, 2010

Freelon Group Selected – 2010

In 2010, the OST/Almeda Corridors Redevelopment Authority and Houston Parks and Recreation requested proposals to develop a new concept for the park. North Carolina-based The Freelon Group, was selected to work with Houston-based landscape architect M2L Associates on the project.  Mr. Phil Freelon iss an internationally recognized African-American architect, most…

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City Renovation Planning – 2011

January 1, 2011

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…

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Breaking Ground – 2013

October 26, 2013

Breaking Ground – 2013

H.P.A.R.D., TIRZ Almeda #7, and the Friends of Emancipation Park broke ground for renovations on October 26, 2013

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Emancipation Park Conservancy – 2015

June 19, 2015

Emancipation Park Conservancy formed as a 501 (c)(3)

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Emancipation Avenue – October 2016

October 17, 2016

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. It was subject to approval by the city council.

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