Forrest Park Historic District (Health Sciences Park)

Status: Endangered by loss of contextual features and may eventually be delisted.

Location: Bounded by Union and Madison Avenues, and South Manassas and Dunlap Streets, in Memphis

Built: 1899-1941

Architectural Style: Picturesque, Beaux Arts; park

Original Function/Purpose: Park

The Forrest Park Historic District was placed on the National Register on Mar. 4, 2009.

History: The design of Forrest Park was prepared by George Kessler to center on a large bronze equestrian statue of Confederate Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest, designed by sculptor Charles H. Niehaus. The plan for the park was put in motion in 1899, and by 1905 the design had been realized, Forrest’s and his wife’s remains reinterred in the park, and the Forrest statue erected as the central feature. Other features have come and gone over the years: a tennis court, playground, lily pond, picnic pavilion, and wading pool. The park is now essentially a place for passive recreation, and remains very much as Kessler originally designed it. In response to criticism of Forrest’s slave-trading business and his wartime and post-war activities, in February 2013 the Memphis City Council renamed the park as Health Sciences Park and entrusted its maintenance to the neighboring University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences. In December 2017 it voted to sell the park to a private nonprofit entity, Memphis Greenspace Inc., which then removed the Forrest equestrian statue and intends to disinter Forrest’s and his wife’s remains for reburial in Elmwood Cemetery. These acts are under court review.

Maps:

Outline of the Forrest Park Historic District.

Map of the district used in its National Register nomination (George Kessler’s plan ca. 1902).

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN