Booker T. Washington Park

The land on which Booker T. Washington Park lies today was once part of John H. Craven’s Rose Hill Plantation, one of several large farms surrounding Charlottesville before the Civil War. Following the Civil War former slaveholders like the Cravens could no longer afford to cultivate such large tracts of land. Real estate development companies began to divide the farmland for industrial usage, and by 1890 companies like the Charlottesville Industrial and Land Improvement Company owned all but 50-60 acres of the former Rose Hill Plantation. Even so, the Cravens continued to live in the plantation house and to farm its surrounding 35 acres. After Washington Park opened in 1926, Charlottesville’s black citizens worked hard to improve its conditions. The Colored Recreation Board formed as the African-American branch of the City Recreation Department in 1934 and began work on the area of the park known as “The Bottom.” When the park opened this portion consisted of a flood plain dissected by small streams, yet over the years the Board developed the land into an integral part of Washington Park. The Board also made plans for new tennis courts and created a recreation hall known later as “The Barn,” completed December 1934, to be used for indoor fundraisers.