H.P.A.R.D. Park Histories

Market Square in the north end of downtown

1920 - 1936


The work of the Recreation Bureau and the Houston Service Association were similar, so the two merged in 1921 to  form the Recreation and Community Service Association. In the same year, Mayor Oscar Holcombe and City  Council passed an ordinance creating a City Recreation Department out of the Recreation and Community Service  Association to be managed by a commission of six members. Many early leaders of the Houston community served  on this Recreation Commission, which was appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council.

As the Recreation Department did not own any properties, it worked closely with the Houston Public School System  and the Public Parks Department, which furnished playgrounds, school buildings for evening community center  activities  and caretaker service for park properties. Until 1928, the Houston Public School System paid part of the  salaries of all  physical and playground instructors.

Recreation Headquarters moved to the City Auditorium and the old banquet hall was used as a gym.  Houston Girl  Scouts organized as part of the Recreation Department.


The Recreation Association became part of the Community Chest (United Fund).

Moody Park was created out of property purchased for $26,000 by the City of Houston.


Hermann Park gained 133 1/2 acres. The Public Parks Department's budget was $216,604.22. The Department’s  goal was to have a park within a 1/2 mile of every house. The Recreation Department believed a park should be  within a 1/4 mile of every home.

Although started in 1922, Houston's new golf course was completed in 1924. It featured grass greens instead of the  more commonly used sand in other cities. All golfers who played it said it was better. Green fees, five days a week  was .25 cents, and free before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. George Rotan was the first to win the city wide championship  on Houston's first municipal golf course. Hermann Park Golf Course was called the first dedicated"playground" for  adults in Houston.


MacGregor Park and North and South MacGregor Ways came into being in honor of real estate developer,  philanthropist, and all-around Houston booster Henry Frederick MacGregor. His widow, Elizabeth Stevens  MacGregor, and nephews presented the city with $225,000 for the project.

The Girl Scouts broke off from the Recreation Department.


The Public Parks Department employed 114 workers.


The Community Chest withdrew its support and the Recreation Department became solely supported by the City of  Houston General Fund.


The former home of M. E. Foster, Editor of the old Houston Press, located on Buffalo Drive (now Allen Parkway),  became the first Recreation Clubhouse. This was the main meeting and activity center for the Department until 1939.

The Public Parks Department acquired a total of 2,500 acres of parkland. Construction started on the Sam Houston  Monument - erected cost of construction was $75,000 gifted by the Women's Civic Club. The monument was  dedicated on August 30, 1936.

The first municipal pool operated by the City of Houston was Park Place


Mrs. Dora Porter Mason donated 69.88 acres of parkland to the city to honor her husband’s memory. It was  combined with the 31.75-acre Pineview Manor Park to become John T. Mason Park.


The Great Depression Era - Three attempts to obtain bond funds for Recreation improvements failed. In 1932 an  attempt was made to secure a special tax for Recreation operations; it failed.


The Parks Department combined with Street and Bridge, Engineering, Sewer, Motor Repair and Public Utility  departments. The Parks director received $4,000/year and was bonded at $5,000.


The city of Houston 100th Anniversary; the Daughters of the Republic of Texas built the Log Cabin in Hermann Park  as a memorial to pioneer men and women.