Griggs Park – Uptown Dallas, Texas

The Rev. A.R. Griggs Park is a historic 8-acre park located in the heart of Uptown Dallas.

About Rev. Griggs

The Rev. Allen R. Griggs, D.D., was born a slave in Georgia, sold at age 9, and brought to Texas where he became a free man at age 15 on June 19, 1865. He joined the Baptist church in 1869 and was ordained in 1874. He became a minister at New Hope Baptist Church on Hall Street in 1875. Immediately afterward, he raised funds for a new church building and repurposed the old building as the New Hope Grammar School for ex-slaves. When he took his post, the church had only 55 members, but it grew to more than 450 under his guidance.

A renowned speaker and influential leader, Griggs devoted his life to the education of black Texans. He established the first black high school in Texas at Hall and Cochran streets, organized four historically black colleges, and founded the first black newspaper in the state.

In 1884, the Baptist Standard published an account of Griggs addressing a group of more than 5,000 men, black and white, who had gathered to wittiness a public hanging. His words regarding the destruction of human life were so powerful that the men dispersed, heads bowed, hats in hand, tears in many eyes, no longer interested in the sad spectacle.

In 1894, Kentucky State University granted Griggs an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. At the time of his death in 1922, he was dean of North Texas Baptist College. In 1924, at the request of the City Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs, the Dallas City Council renamed Griggs Park in his honor.

Serving the Community

Emancipated slaves purchased land in this area in 1869 to establish Freedman’s Town. In the late 1800s, violence and racial intolerance in rural Texas drove black families to Dallas, where they found work with the railroad and in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

In 1915, the Dallas Park Board established two parks for use by the growing black population. Griggs Park, then called Hall Street Negro Park, was on nearly 2.5 acres of land adjacent to the Houston and Texas Central railroad tracks. This park became a central social and cultural resource for the community. Dallas was still racially segregated, so the parks were the only places in the city for blacks to gather, picnic, play or compete in sports.

In 1921, the city built a pool and field house in the park with showers and lockers – critical resources for many nearby residents who had no indoor plumbing. Black-owned businesses and churches prospered here between the 1920s and the 1980s, and it was often called a “city within a city”. Baseball Hall of Famer and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Ernie Banks played baseball in Griggs Park. Greats of the day, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, composer Duke Ellington, and jazz legends Thomas “Fats” Waller and Louis Armstrong, visited the thriving community.

Highway construction split up the neighborhoods of Freedman’s Town and Old North Dallas, contributing to the area’s decline. Families migrated to newer housing in other parts of the city.

Today, Griggs park serves as a proud reminder of the past and a place of renewal and reflection for an evolving Uptown.

A Look Back

1915 Dallas Park Board established 2.5 acre park on Hall Street.

1921 Pool and field house built with showers and lockers

1924 At the request of the City Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs, the Dallas City Council renamed the park after the Rev. Allen R. Griggs.

1929 Original field house burned and was later rebuilt.

1933 First lighted ballfields installed.

1945 8 acres were added to the park to increase services for residents.

1947-1950 More than 100 families relocated from land purchased for the expansion of U.S. Highway 75.

1952 Improvements including trees and sod, ballfields and playground equipment were completed.

1965 1.6 acres of park land sold for the construction of Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

1976 Old North Dallas area became known as State-Thomas.

1986 State-Thomas Special Purpose Zoning District established to guide the neighborhood’s future.

1989 State-Thomas Tax Increment Financing District established to fund public infrastructure improvements.

1992 Uptown Public Improvement District (PID) established to provide for ongoing improvements in the area.

Donors

About the Park

Dallas has evolved into a world renowned city due to its rich history of visionary individuals that include courageous pioneers, determined farmers, innovative entrepreneurs, brilliant engineers and extraordinary men of faith.  As one enters Dallas from the north on the Central Expressway, they are welcomed by the skyline and an eight acre park that marks the historic areas of State-Thomas, Freedman’s Town and Old North Dallas.

Griggs Park commemorates Reverend Allen R. Griggs, the 1870’s pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, who created the first Dallas high school for African Americans as well as many other self-help initiatives. The vision is for Griggs Park to leave a footprint memorial to the past, while enhancing the green open space for the enjoyment of the community and families who live, work and play in Uptown, the highest density residential neighborhood in Dallas.

Our Community/Vision for Griggs Park

Griggs Park provides the opportunity to create and maintain an oasis for the highest density residential neighborhood in Dallas. Uptown’s 18,000+  residents include a cross section of ages, families, professionals and students. Compared to the Dallas average of 119 sq. ft. per person of park space, Uptown has 19 sq. ft. per person.

This campaign will enhance the current space with children’s facilities, kiosks, benches, picnic tables, groves of new trees, broad pedestrian pathways, fountains and recognition of the park’s history. The planned improvements will benefit residents and all of Dallas to continue as one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the U.S.

Construction Updates:

Friends of Griggs Park

The Rev. A. R. Griggs Park is a historic 8-acre park located in Uptown Dallas. It provides a safe beautiful natural area for all ages including families and children. Griggs Park has new renovated amenities for picnics, children’s playgrounds, amenities for pets, groves of trees to enjoy reading, painting or quiet conversation, scenic views and a moving historical memorial to the Park’s namesake, the Rev. A. R. Griggs and the State Thomas and Freedman’s community that preceded Uptown.

If you join before March 31, 2014, at a $500 level or higher, your name will be permanently listed on the plaque
as a Charter Member of the Friends of Griggs Park. 

Student

$25 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park decal

Individual

$50 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler

Family Friends

$100 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Griggs Park Pen

Landscape Friend

$250 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Griggs Park Note Pad

Nature Friend

$500 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Griggs Park Travel Fleece Blanket
  • Permanently listed as a Charter member, before March 31, 2014

Supporting Friend

$1000 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Luxury Picnic Basket
  • Permanently listed as a Charter member, before March 31, 2014

Park Keeper

$2500 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Griggs Park Travel Fleece Blanket
  • Luxury Picnic Basket
  • Permanently listed as a Charter member, before March 31, 2014

Benefactor

$5000 / yr

  • Friends of Griggs Park Decal
  • Griggs Double-Walled Tumbler
  • Griggs Park Travel Fleece Blanket
  • Luxury Picnic Basket
  • Radar Half-Zip Performance Pullover
  • Permanently listed as a Charter member, before March 31, 2014

Contact

The Rev. A.R. Griggs Park is a historic 8-acre park located in the heart of Uptown Dallas.

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Contact Info

(214) 871-2825

info@griggspark.org

2200 Hugo St. Dallas, TX 75204