A black heritage park is planned on Martin Luther King Avenue
Released at 6:00 am on Saturday, May 20, 2023
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by Clark Curtis
For Washington Daily News
The Fourth Street Black Heritage Park will be the first facility in Washington dedicated solely to the local history of the area. That is the vision of Lisa Jones, curator of her Waterfront Subway Museum in Washington, and many other family members. It is located on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Van Norden Street, on the site of the former home of her grandparents, William and Olivia Cozens. “This property has been in our family since 1918,” Jones said. “The family wanted this to be a heritage park not only to honor them, but also to show the historical importance of 4th Avenue, one of the most prosperous streets in the black community at the time. During urban renewal in the 1960s, we lost most of our original homes and property, and as a result many, even those who live there today, have no idea of its history. No. We want to take you back to the glory days of 4th Avenue and share it with you.”
Jones works closely with his family, including his nephew Kevin Allsopp, owner of Nemus Gardens in Maryland, which specializes in setting up gardens and beautifying green spaces. Together, they formalized the park’s design and layout, paying tribute to Olivia Cozens, who had benches, historic markers highlighting the history of the area, and a very large garden in her home. A community garden will be included. But for Allsop, it’s more than just building a park. “When we found out about Grandma’s big garden, we knew we needed it,” said Allsop. “But I also realized that gardening is in my DNA and that is why I am so passionate about gardening. It also gave me the opportunity to learn about things like my great-grandparents running a restaurant here for over 30 years during the Great Depression, how much strength, resilience and ingenuity it took. That’s why this is more than just a park for me, it’s a sacred place.I have high hopes and high hopes for how this experience will affect me and my family, and all of that. I am truly honored to be able to participate.”
As Jones points out, her grandparents were among Washington’s most prominent black businessmen, women, community leaders, doctors, and others who worked and lived in the Black Historic District. . It was also the first of many, including Beaufort County’s first black library, Beaufort County’s first black kindergarten, and the home where the first teachers of her Colored School in Washington lived. “This place where we stand is the land of my ancestors, and being able to honor them in this way means a lot to me and to my whole family,” said Jones. said. “Legacy Park gives us the opportunity to share our history with other families and the entire community, which we can pass on to our children, grandchildren and future generations. It’s a legacy, and it’s very special and inspiring to establish for the first time in Washington a Legacy Park where we can all come together.”
“All of this brings up a lot of special memories for me,” said Jones’ sister, Lena Bailey-Davies. “We used to play in our grandparents’ backyard a lot. We had a lot of fun playing little games with ourselves and playing in the mud like kids,” she says over her face. said with a smile. “I’m happy to have this opportunity to share everything with others and give them a place to come and sit. It’s going to be really great.”
It’s also a unique opportunity for local pioneer Florence Lodge, who spearheaded the effort to rename 4th Avenue Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. “It took a lot of work to rename the street, but we got it done,” said Lodge. “Since the situation was really starting to take a turn for the worse, I was hoping that renaming the street might put the situation back in the direction of its glory days. I’m so excited to hear the news about the park and I hope it gets even better.I always put my heart into what I do and I’d be happy to help in any way I can. , imagine you can see that park, isn’t that nice!
A formal groundbreaking ceremony for the park is scheduled for June 11 this year.