Location: South Third Street and Walker Avenue, Memphis
Built: 1900, 1934
Architectural Style: Park
Original Function/Purpose: Park
History: John Gaston emigrated from France in the 1850s and made his way to Memphis by way of New York, where he is said to have perfected his culinary skills by working in the world-famous restaurant Delmonico’s. Using those skills, he would later make a fortune in Memphis as a restaurant and hotel proprietor. In 1900 he donated to the city part of his estate that became Gaston Park. Later, when his widow died she left a bequest for the establishment of a hospital in his memory – the massive John Gaston Hospital, dedicated in 1936. The park named for him was designed by George Kessler among other work the latter undertook for the Memphis Park Commission at the beginning of the century. The Gaston Community Center (shown here) was constructed in 1934 during the depression with Civil Works Administration funds to a design by George Mahan, Jr. and Everett Woods. At the time it was the largest such center in the city. Later alterations and additions followed, always under the guidance of the Park Commission and its successors. In May 2022, it was announced that Gaston Community Center and Gaston Park would receive a $3.4 million renovation, beginning immediately, as part of the $200 million Accelerate Memphis bond package devoted to community projects. Nick Walker, Director of Parks and Neighborhoods, said the goal was “to make the park and community center more inviting by removing subtle off-putting cues including removing fencing along the park, fixing a leaking roof, enhancing lighting fixtures and replacing windows that had been filled with concrete since the 1970s.” Numerous other renovations of the facility will be included in the facelift.
City Council District: 6
Super District: 8
County Commission District: 8