Memorial Park Conservancy

 

1820 | The “Mother of Texas” Jane Long’s diary recounts camping with a group of travelers headed to San Antonio in the “pinery” that is now the area of Memorial Park.

1835 | The Reinerman family establishes a homestead comprising much of the Park’s current land. It remains with members of the Reinerman family until 1883.

1912 | Mayor Horace Baldwin Rice, nephew of William Marsh Rice, strongly endorses the idea of acquiring a large park along Buffalo Bayou “that will for all time be of sufficient magnitude for our people”

1917 | The United States enters the First World War, and the War Department leases 7,600 acres of forested land on Buffalo Bayou to establish a training base named Camp Logan. Nearly 1,000 Camp Logan soldiers lose their lives during the war and over 6,200 are wounded.

1923 | When Camp Logan is deserted, Catherine Mary Emmott writes to the Houston Chronicle suggesting that “the city buy some of the land and turn it into a park in memory of the boys.” She becomes a tremendous advocate for the cause.

1924 | Will and Mike Hogg, with minority owner Henry Stude, buy two tracts of former Camp Logan land and sell the acreage to the city at cost. In May, the City of Houston officially establishes Memorial Park in memory of the soldiers who trained there. The Hogg’s sister, Miss Ima Hogg, assumes the role of guardian of the Park, saving it from numerous encroachments over the years. Acclaimed landscape architects Hare & Hare are hired to develop a plan for the Park which calls for an 18-hole golf course, scenic drives, trails for hikers and “nature students,” bridle paths, and an amphitheater.

1934 | The Works Progress Administration puts over 500 men to work on building the golf course. Landscape architect John Bredemus called it “my greatest golf course ever.” The adjacent clubhouse becomes a place to see and be seen. Green fees were 35 cents on weekdays and 50 cents on weekends.

1942 | Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Weiss donate an additional 8 adjoining acres on the west side of the Park to the City. Years later, this becomes the location for an archery range, a popular pastime.

1950s | Trail riders on the Salt Grass Trail camp overnight in the Park on their way to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, beginning a lively annual tradition.

1964 | The city develops the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center within Memorial Park to provide nature education as well as an urban wildlife sanctuary.

1970s | Inspired by Houstonian Seymour Lieberman, commonly referred to as the “Father of Jogging”, Al Lawrence begins coaching runners for area high-school cross country meets, spearheading the popularity of jogging in the park. The sport receives an additional boost from the 1972 Olympics.

1975 | Upon the passing of Miss Ima Hogg, a group of stalwart conservations--Terry Hershey, Sadie Gwin Blackburn, Dr. John D. Staub and Frank C. Smith, Jr.-- continue to protect the Park from new intrusion.

1978 | The Seymour Lieberman Exer-Trail is established. Today, over 10,000 people each day use the Exer-Trail.

1990s | Sadie Gwin Blackburn assists in developing a larger group to provide guidance and stewardship and organizes the Memorial Park Advisory Committee.

1992 | Sarah Emmott, member of the Texas Conservation Hall of Fame, writes the cherished book Memorial Park: A Priceless Legacy.

2000 | The Memorial Park Advisory Committee becomes the Memorial Park Conservancy, established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

2004 | An initial master plan is formed for the Park and funds are successfully raised to build the pedestrian Living Bridge, renovate the Alkek Tennis Center and construct the Outer Loop Trail.

2011 | A devastating drought arrives. More than half of the trees in Memorial Park are irrevocably damaged. A reforestation plan is put into motion.

2013 | Houston City Council approves the annexation of Memorial Park into the boundaries of the Uptown TIRZ #16, resulting in a significant funding stream for the Park. A Long-Range Master Plan process is embarked upon with landscape architectural firm Nelson Byrd Woltz chosen as lead designers.

2015 | Houston City Council approves the long-range Master Plan for Memorial Park.  In December, ground breaks on the inaugural project, the Eastern Glades.