Hadley-Lillard Park is officially the new name for north Nashville’s most popular and historic parks. The announcement of the name change came during the recent Parks Board meeting. The Tennessee Historical Commission recently determined that the Parks Board’s request to change the name of Hadley Park to Hadley-Lillard Park does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act since the park is not a ‘Memorial’ as defined in the Act.
The Parks Board voted to approve a request to change the name of Hadley Park to Hadley-Lillard Park on July 6, 2021, noting that “Kwame Leo Lillard was a well-known and important historical figure in the Nashville civil rights movement and a lifelong advocate for social justice.” Board members said they wanted “to honor Mr. Lillard and properly recognize the history of Black Nashvillians by including him in the name of this historic park based on his contributions to the Nashville community and his deep involvement and activities in that park.”
A new masonry sign, on the corner of 28th and Albion streets, incorporates African textile motifs as well as the name of the park. The signage will now read Hadley-Lillard Park. In May, the department dedicated a new free-form-roof pavilion. The airy Afro-centric structure was designed to create a feeling of openness and space and to anchor this high-profile corner of the park while celebrating the culture of the surrounding community with colorful, patterned ceiling panels inspired by traditional African textiles.
Hadley Park Community Center offers patrons of all ages a modern, safe, and friendly place to exercise, recreate and meet friends in the heart of historic North Nashville. A wide variety of activities and programs are offered for people of all ages and abilities. Fees for fitness memberships and classes are very reasonable, and many activities are free. Program and facility offerings include but are not limited to a full-service fitness center, dance aerobics studio, indoor/outdoor walking/running tracks, gymnasium, computer lab, indoor swimming pool with locker rooms, an after-school program for youth, game room, a youth Summer Enrichment Program, daily senior adult recreation program and so much more.
Opened on July 4, 1912, this 30-acre park northwest of downtown Nashville was the first in the city, and among the earliest parks anywhere in the United States to be set aside for the exclusive use of African Americans by municipal authorities.
The parkland occupies the site of the former Hadley’s plantation, and the main house, from whose porch Frederick Douglass purportedly delivered an address in 1873, stood within the park until 1948. Situated between Fisk University and Tennessee State University, two historically African American institutions, the L-shaped park is shaded by large-canopy trees, including hickory, ash, and elm, which dot the gently rolling terrain.
Located within the southern portion of the grounds are picnic shelters, two baseball diamonds, a playground, and open, grassy fields, all encircled by a paved walking trail that meanders just within the perimeter of rectilinear streets. The northern section of the park contains the bandshell and is home to the Hadley Park Community Center, fronted by a U-shaped parking area.
Farther north is the Hadley Park Tennis Center, opened in 2018, with nine outdoor hard courts and four indoor courts laid out in grid-like fashion.km