Park It Here
Feature story for MBQ magazine
Park It Here
The Overton Park Conservancy is the newest caretaker for the city’s 111-year-old oasis
In November of last year, Memphis celebrated Overton Park’s 111th birthday. On 347 acres of land known as Lea Woods, in what was then considered the northeastern part of Memphis, George Kessler of Kansas City, Missouri, designed a park that was to be connected to downtown via parkways and would eventually be swallowed whole by the city, burning bright in the belly as an oasis among asphalt, concrete, cars and steel.
A month after that auspicious birthday, the Overton Park Conservancy celebrated its one-year anniversary. The Memphis Park Commission was dissolved by the Herenton administration in 2000 and folded into city government. In December 2011, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to allow the Conservancy to take over the management of the 184 acres of public parkland including the Greensward, Rainbow Lake, the formal gardens, Veteran’s Plaza, the 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area, and the East Parkway picnic area. Though the entities share grounds and work together, OPC has no authority over the Levitt Shell, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis College of Art, Memphis Zoo, or the Overton Park Golf Course. The agreement between the city of Memphis and OPC is a 10-year contract … (read more)