Jackson Park Receives Lone Star Legacy Designation
El Paso, Texas – Six Texas parks were honored with designation as a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society (TRAPS) in a ceremony at the association’s annual institute in El Paso on February 20, 2019.
A Lone Star Legacy Park is classified as a park that holds special prominence in the local community and the state of Texas. To qualify for consideration, the park must have endured the test of time and become iconic to those who have visited, played and rested on its grounds. Nominated parks must be a minimum of 50 years old and had to meet the following criteria:
• The property represents distinctive design and/or construction.
• The park is associated with historic events or sites.
• The park is associated with events specific to the local community/state.
• The park is home to unique natural features.
Jackson Park, located in Temple, Texas holds special prominence within the local community. This park was one of the first designated parks in Temple and remains a popular gathering place in the city to this day, over 100 years later.
Jackson Park was developed from the gifts of two prominent families, each with separate ties to the city’s two community hospitals – Kings Daughters and Scott & White. On April 1, 1910, the first section of park property was donated to the city by Herbert McIlhenny “Hugh Mac” McCelvey and his wife, Jennie and their children, H.M. Jr., John S. and George McCelvey. Deeds are unclear as to how many acres were involved in the original donation, but it is believed to be 2.16 acres. On January 26, 1931, an adjacent 3.8 acres was donated to the city by Arthur Carroll Scott, Jr., M.D. and his wife, Maude. Both the McCelvey and Scott family were of prominence in Temple and instrumental in helping Central Texas grow and flourish.
Although the area neighborhoods enjoyed this parkland prior to 1931, the property was named and dedicated as Jackson Park on January 26, 1931. The origins of the name Jackson Park is vague; however, it is possible that nearby Jackson Avenue was named to honor an early pioneer and/or prominent family, thus the park and nearby creek were perhaps named for the adjacent street.
Jackson Park became a beautiful scenic gathering place where people from all over the area would come for celebrations and get-togethers. In the early years of the park, it included a bandstand and dance floor, landscaping and gardens. In 1941, four stone bridges and three stone picnic tables were constructed as part of the National Youth Administration. These features are still in the park today. Sometime after World War II, the city also installed a stripped T-6 Texan single-engine trainer aircraft. In 1955-56, the park included picnic tables, barbeque grills, tennis courts, restrooms and a playground.
Due to the City of Temple’s recent growth, Jackson Park has now become one of Temple’s smaller neighborhood parks. Consisting of the original stone bridges and picnic tables, two picnic pavilions, a restroom, trail, two basketball courts, a fountain, playground, native pecan trees and a beautiful rose garden. The garden in the park was created and is maintained by the Temple Rotary Club. On July 17, 2008 the Temple Historic Preservation Committee recognized and awarded Jackson Park with a Temple Historic Marker.
Although the park has undergone many changes throughout its long history, Jackson Park remains a scenic park and a favorite gathering place for local families throughout the year.
Parks have played an important role in the development of communities throughout history. Local parks promote community development, provide natural respite and encourage social interaction. As communities were founded, developed and prospering the citizens often recognized the need for an open space to be developed to serve the public. Temple Parks & Recreation Department celebrates its 75th year of creating beautiful places and amazing arts, culture, and recreation experiences for its community.
Six parks received the honor in the eighth year of the statewide program. Parks recognized include Rosewood Park, Austin; Memorial Park, El Paso; Trinity Park, Fort Worth; McGregor Park, Houston; Jackson Park, Temple and Holland Lake Park, Weatherford.
TRAPS is a non-profit 501(c)3 professional and educational organization founded 76 years ago with a membership of over 2,000 professionals. TRAPS is committed to advancing the field of parks, recreation and leisure services in Texas, while advocating for enhanced recreation opportunities and the increase of public green space for Texans. www.traps.org