The newly redesigned and rebuilt Emancipation Park is an interwoven tapestry of buildings and landscape encompassing 10 acres in Houston’s Third Ward. The park was established in 1872 when four formerly-enslaved members of the community pooled their funds and purchased the land for $800. For 145 years, Emancipation Park has served as a beloved community and social hub for the Third Ward neighborhood. Until the 1950s, it was the only public park and swimming pool in Houston open to African-Americans.
The new Emancipation Park reflects the pride, resilience, and hope its founders expressed when they established the park for future generations. The renovation and restoration includes: • New entry plaza to welcome visitors and provide information on the park and its daily activities • New recreation center with classrooms, a health center, and a basketball court • Two renovated and expanded historic buildings—a cultural center and an aquatic center • Commemorative sculptures on each corner of the park honoring the four founders • Event lawn, ball fields, outdoor courts, a founder’s promenade, and family picnic areas • A new children’s playground, including an interactive water features
Sustainability The three buildings at Emancipation Park, two renovated and one newly built, together with the landscape improvements, are targeting LEED® Certification or higher. Sustainable design features contributing to certification include: • Geothermal energy system installed onsite to serve the mechanical systems of all three buildings • Photovoltaic panel array on the recreation center roof will fulfill 35% of the building’s energy needs, qualifying for a LEED® Exemplary Performance credit • Overall energy savings of 77% in the new construction building, qualifying for a LEED Exemplary Performance credit; overall energy savings of up to 40% for the two renovated buildings
The park has hosted Houston’s Juneteenth celebration, the annual holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, the day when news of emancipation and freedom reached Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Today, Juneteenth is observed in communities throughout the country.