The Austin Parks & Recreation Department and TM Studio tasked three Austin photographers to capture the unique elements of five historic Austin parks. Through this campaign, the photographers showcased the beauty and history of these places through their unique styles and perspectives. Leo Aguirre, Lizzie Chen, and Montsho Jarreau Thoth visited spots around Austin to uncover these hidden gems. See the gallery below for a glimpse into their journeys.

1.
Rosewood Neighborhood Park

Rosewood Neighborhood Park, originally named “Rosewood Avenue Park and Playground for the Colored,” opened in 1929 and was the first public park for African Americans in a segregated Austin. The City intended for the park to be a hub for Austin’s African American community’s recreational and social activities and the first Juneteenth celebration took place at the park in 1930. The day’s festivities started with baseball, races, a swim meet, and tennis matches. The closing celebrations featured community singing and dancing. Today, the park carries on this tradition annually with thousands in attendance. 

Henry Green Madison’s log cabin was moved to Rosewood Park after the demolition of a larger house built around it on East 11th Street. Madison was Austin’s first African American council member in the 1870s period of Reconstruction after the Civil War.Photo by Lizzie Chen
The Lamkin Pavilion is named after Catherine Lamkin, who began her 36-year career with Austin Parks & Recreation at Rosewood Neighborhood Park. In the early 1940s, she organized the Hostess Corps to entertain WWII servicemen, two Wives’ Clubs, and in collaboration with the USO, entertainment at the Doris Miller Auditorium.  She founded the Miss East Austin beauty pageant for African Americans at Rosewood, and was on the front lines of racial integration around Austin.Photo by Leo Aguirre
Originally built as a home for the Bertram family in 1875, the building was converted to a recreation center in 1930 after the City purchased the property.Photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth

2.
Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1926 as Austin’s first public cemetery exclusively for African American community members. Today, Evergreen Cemetery has more than 12,000 burials—including prominent African American civic leaders— and receives more than 100 new burials annually. While the cemetery opened to serve Austin’s African American community, in recent years, many Latinx burials have taken place. Friends of Evergreen and the families of those buried here rallied at the cemetery in September 2020 to celebrate its heritage and show their support after several headstones were vandalized with graffiti; Evergreen Cemetery remains an important cultural landmark in Austin. 

Sunlight shining through the trees in the beautiful resting place of Evergreen Cemetery established in 1926 as the first Austin cemetery to be “used exclusively for colored persons.”Photo by Leo Aguirre
A hand carved headstone for one of over 12,000 graves at Evergreen Cemetery, which include prominent African American civic leaders.Photo by Lizzie Chen
In September 2020, after several headstones were vandalized, family and friends of those in Evergreen Cemetery rallied to celebrate its heritage and show their support.Photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth

3.
Mayfield Park & Nature Preserve

Mayfield Park & Nature Preserve is located at one of Austin’s oldest homesteads. Allison Mayfield, former chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, purchased this property in 1909 and converted the late nineteenth century dwelling to a summer residence. In 1922, Mayfield’s daughter and her husband, Mary and Milton Gutsch, began living in the home full time. Over the next 62 years, the Gutsches, along with landscaper Esteban Arredondo, developed the home and gardens into the lush greenspace visitors see today. In 1971, Mary Gutsch deeded the property in her will to the City for all Austinites to enjoy as a park. Today, Mayfield Park & Nature preserve features the Gutsch’s historic home, lily ponds packed with koi, a community tended garden, a flock of peafowl descended from a pair that arrived as Christmas gift in 1937, and a nature preserve with hiking trails. 

The historic cottage in Mayfield Park & Nature Preserve, once home to Allison Mayfield who purchased it in 1909 to use a s a summer home. Mayfield, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, passed the home to his daughter and her husband Mary and Milton Gutsch.Photo by Leo Aguirre
The park features this dovecote (pictured) as well as beautiful gardens developed over decades by the Gutsches and landscaper Esteban Arredondo.Photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth
The light reflects off three of six total lily and koi ponds in the park with the stone archway in the background.Photo by Lizzie Chen

4.
Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park

Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park covers 15 acres in the heart of East Austin. Established in 1931 during a time of segregated public facilities, it was also known as “Mexican Park.” Although the City of Austin allocated a portion of the initial funding for the park, its realization was chiefly the product of community efforts on behalf of the Latinx population of East Austin. Severian Guerra, Amador Candelas, and Miguel Guerro were among the active community members credited with generating the commitment, organization, and momentum critical to making the fledgling park into a dynamic community center. The park is named after General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, hero of the Battle of Puebla. Parque Zaragoza has emerged as a cultural hub for East Austin’s Latinx community, where celebrations for Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis have occurred for the past 90 years. 

Parque Zaragoza, named after the general Ignacio Zaragoza Sequin, hero of the Battle of Puebla. Once known as “Mexican Park”, it was established in 1931 during a time of segregated public facilities.Photo by Lizzie Chen
The Latinx community has celebrated many events here over the past 90 years, such as Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis.Photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth
Those who helped to make the park a dynamic community center included Severian Guerra, Amador Candelas, Miguel Guerro, and more active community members.Photo by Leo Aguirre

5.
Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell, a 784-foot-high promontory along Lake Austin, is among the most significant natural landmarks in Austin. Early on, the site had strategic importance to Indigenous Peoples and has served as a popular attraction for Austin residents and visitors since the 1830s. Each year, thousands visit Mount Bonnell to take in sweeping panoramic views of downtown, Lake Austin, and western hills of Austin. Each year, thousands visit Mount Bonnell to take in sweeping panoramic views of downtown, Lake Austin, and western hills of Austin. The 1938 Covert Monument, carved by Anton Stasswender, commemorates the conveyance of Covert Park at Mount Bonnell by Frank Covert, Sr. to Travis County. The park was deeded to PARD in 1972.

The flagstone staircase leading to the panoramic views.Photo by Montsho Jarreau Thoth
Mount Bonnell was of great importance to Indigenous Peoples and rises to 784 feet. It is home to the 1938 Covert Monument, carved by Anton Stasswender to commemorate the conveyance of Covert Park at Mount Bonnell by Frank Cnvert, Sr.Photo by Leo Aguirre
Thousands of people each year come here to capture the views of Lake Austin, downtown and the western hills of Austin.By Lizzie Chen

Go to www.AustinTexas.gov/Page/Historic-Austin-Parks to plan your next visit and learn more about these iconic and historic Austin sites.