Photo courtesy of Steve Labinski
After being closed for over a year, Wooldridge Square Park in downtown Austin is reopening! The Austin Parks and Recreation Department, along with support from the Friends of Wooldridge Square organization and other sponsors, has completed extensive renovations to restore this historical square to all its former glory. In order to celebrate this hard work, the department is hosting a grand re-opening celebration on Friday, September 13th, complete with live music by Dale Watson. The celebration continues on Saturday, September 14th, beginning with Tai Chi in the early morning and concluding with live performances by the Austin Symphony Big Band. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities going on throughout the day, not to mention the delicious food truck vendors.
Wooldridge Park has a history as old as the city of Austin itself. The park was created as part of the original Austin city grid plan in 1839, but remained vacant for 70 years. In 1909, Austin Mayor A.P. Wooldridge made an effort to clean up and redesign the space. The large gazebo that currently rests at the center of the park was built during this time. Friday night concerts and other city events have been held at Wooldridge Park since its opening, and the park was recognized as a historical site in 1979. As the city of Austin has grown, however, there have been fewer events held here as the need for renovation continued to grow. Saturday chess games with giant pieces were one of the few activities still held at Wooldridge Park.
The funds raised by the Friends of Wooldridge Park and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department allowed renovations to begin in June of 2012. The park has since undergone construction for a new irrigation system and fresh turf. Existing trees have been fertilized and new trees have been planted. A new lighting system, park benches, trash cans and picnic tables have also been installed. The park’s crowned jewel, the white gazebo, has been updated with new wooden boards and steps - and a fresh coat of paint. Austinites can expect more community and private events to be held at Wooldridge Park, such as fitness classes and public concerts. The renovation plan also allows for food truck vendors to set up shop at Wooldridge Square on a weekly basis. Those involved with the project hope that these renovations will attract more visitors to the park and serve as the starting point for revamping other downtown Austin parks.
Everyone is invited to celebrate the grand debut of Wooldridge Park on September 13th & 14th. The park is bordered by West 10th Street, Guadalupe Street, West 9th Street and San Antonio Street in downtown Austin.