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Memorial Park, Jacksonville

Categories: Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.1/5 based on 65+ reviews on the web

Built by the people of Jacksonville to honor the 1220 Floridians who died during World War I, Memorial Park, one of Jacksonville’s crown jewels, was dedicated Christmas Day 1924 on the banks of the St. Johns River. Designed by the renowned Olmsted Bros. landscape architecture firm, Memorial Park stands at the heart of one of Jacksonville’s great neighborhoods, within walking distance of a flourishing restaurant district and just a few blocks down the street from one of the city’s cultural treasures, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, as well as the nearby Riverside Arts Market.

When the weather is good, as it often is in Jacksonville, the park is crowded. Fishermen toss their line over the balustrades into the St. Johns River. Walkers, runners and cyclist circle through the park along the broad walkways. The great lawn is covered with people tossing Frisbees, kicking soccer balls, playing games of catch or just picnicking on blankets they set on the ground.

Since 1986, when the Memorial Park Association (MPA) was formed, the City of Jacksonville has had a partner in maintaining and nurturing this wonderful asset. The city provides security for the park and provides routine maintenance. The MPA’s job is to fill in the gaps in routine maintenance, spending about $20,000 a year on park maintenance.

But MPA does far more than assist in maintenance, taking on larger scale projects the city cannot or will not undertake.

On the MPA’s watch, Charles Adrian Pillars’ great sculpture “Life” has twice undergone restoration. Following major hurricane damage, restoration of the walkways and the landscape was completed in two phases by 2002. The MPA completed fundraising and dedicated two new bronze eagles, designed and cast by Diane LaFond Insetta in 2010.

2014 was very busy year for the MPA. Members raised more than $50,000 to help serve the MPA’s mission and contributed more 730 volunteer hours working in the park. The MPA secured an agreement with the City Council for a $200,000 matching grant for capital improvements and has, to date, raised $156,000 of that sum. The MPA held three major events in the park: a free Memorial breakfast in the park with support from local businesses, a free Veteran’s Day sunset concert by the U.S. Navy Band Southeast, and an Oktoberfest celebration.

But the MPA’s most ambitious project is still in the planning stages. In 2013 the board adopted a Master Plan, based on the recommendations of Atlanta landscape architect David Sacks. The goals of the Master Plan are “designed to restore the luster of the park, enhance its appeal to today’s visitors, and pass along intact to future generations the unique beauty and character of this spot.”
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  • We just moved to the Riverside area a few months ago and love it. One Saturday while walking back home from the farmer's market, we strolled into the park. It was beautiful, lush, well-manicured, and ...  read more »
  • Went for a quick walk in the evening... Kinda small, view of the river is nice. It's clean and well maintained. 
  • At Riverside Memorial Park, the graves are several members of the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. For fans to look an absolute MUST, over there. For one there is the grave of singer Ronnie Van Zant and bassist Leon Wilkeson opposite.
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