Washington Gladden

park design

Local landscape architects, Charlie Weaver of Architectural Gardens, Inc. and Mark Schieber of Schieber and Associates, collaborated to develop the design of this unique pocket park, the first social justice park in the nation.  Major features of the 18,000 square foot park include a bluestone plaza that is recessed from street level.  The surrounding terraces create a bowl-like effect offering separation from the urban streetscape.  A tall backdrop adjoins the plaza providing a canvas for special exhibits and potential art projects while creating an effective screen of the adjoining car park. Three defined garden areas are located along the periphery of the park.  Various features of the park are connected by an undulating Pathway of Justice that is comprised of buff wash concrete and embedded blue stone inserts. The inserts form a modified Morse Code arrangement that reveals instructive words associated with social justice.  In addition, many of the inserts are engraved with a famous quote related to social justice offering the passerby an opportunity for reflection and inspiration.  43 trees have been added to the landscape including Frontier Elm, European Hornbeam, Japanese Maple, Eastern Redbud, and Flowering Cherry. In 2019, the Discovery Special Improvement District chose the park for its downtown Aesthetic Contribution Award.

Design by Architectural Gardens, Inc. and Schieber and Associates.

groundbreaking ceremony

The park’s groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 27, 2018.  Speakers and performers included:  Tracy Ross, Tim Ahrens, Nannette Maciejunes, Tom Katzenmeyer, Council Member Brown, Renee Wormack-Keels, Alina Craig, Tom Brownfield, and the Fort Hayes Jazz Duo.

wrecking crew

2nd Row:  Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, Rev. Dr. Renee Wormack-Keels, Rabbi Harold Berman, Rev. Emily Corzine, and Director Imran Malik

1st Row:  Isabella Collins, Dominic Blanks, Gabrielle Collins, and Ebenezer Files

dedication day

The park opened on October 28, 2019, with more than 300 in attendance to join the celebration. Speakers and performers included: Mayor Andrew Ginther, Council President Shannon Hardin, Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens, Rabbi Harold Berman, Imran Malik – Director of the Noor Islamic Center, Yvette McGee Brown, Dr. Melanie Corn – President of the Columbus College of Art and Design, Soloist Christopher Humber, Poet Sara Abou Rashed, Grace Glaros, and the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Singers.