The movement to reconstitute the park and properly honor Allan Rohan Crite at Crite Park in the South End has gone into warp speed this summer, and that was buttressed last Wednesday night, Aug. 12, with the unveiling of the proposed park design – complete with a large-scale South End-influenced painting by the world-famous artist who lived and grew up in the South End.
The park has been a blight for many years to neighbors, and is nothing more than a few trees and a brick wall on Appleton Street corner with Columbus Avenue. It’s hardly been a sound tribute to an artist whose works are in the Smithsonian Museum.
That’s exactly what neighbor Cheryl Dickinson though, and she and others have quickly organized a Board that is supported by abutters and the widow of Crite, Jackie Cox Crite. Last Wednesday, they unveiled the most recent plans to a socially-distanced group of more than 65 people.
“This park was not designed by this Board,” said Dickinson. “This park was designed by you.”
Councilor Ed Flynn said it was appropriate to better remember an icon like Crite.
“We don’t fully recognize the contributions of so many African Americans in this neighborhood and in our city,” said Flynn. “They don’t get recognition and so often our history doesn’t teach about what great contributions have been made by people in our own neighborhood.”
Landscape Architect Monique Hall of the BSC Group unveiled the plans and, with Dickinson, reinforced the three priorities. They are a place for quiet respite, areas to sit with lots of shade, and an eye-catching tribute to Crite.
The park, first of all, is proposed to be 3.4 times larger than it is now, and it will contain pergolas that frame three “outdoor living rooms” and eight trees.
“The idea is creating outdoor spaces that are living rooms,” she said. “You can sit and look out, but as people walk by on the street you can be observed. They are literally outdoor living rooms.”
In the back, against an existing building, will be a new wall that will contain one of Crite’s works, hopefully one that highlights the African Americans of the South End that Crite so loved to paint. There will be two small “rooms” and one larger one. The plan is to have three game tables, as two smaller tables as well. None of the sitting areas will allow someone to lay down or sleep in the park. There is not a plan for it to be locked, Dickinson said.
The overall plan is for the Parks Department to take over the space eventually from Public Works during construction. Right now, Dickinson said they are in the process of crafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about who will take care of what – meaning what the Parks Department will do and what the Board will take care of. Similar agreements exist at parks nearby like Hayes Park.
Councilor Flynn pledged his support to helping those two processes along, and has been involved already in the effort.
Cox Crite said she was thrilled with the design and that so many neighbors want to properly remember her late husband, who loved that area of the South End.
“This is fabulous,” she said. “It’s incredible. It’s going to have more green space and it will be family friendly. I think it’s great.”
An online Zoom meeting about the design will be held on Weds., Aug. 26, at 6 p.m.
Cheryl Dickinson of the Crite Park Restoration Committee welcomes everyone to the design reveal gathering.
Councilor Ed Flynn said he would do everything he could to advance the project.
Landscape Architect Monique Hall explains the idea for the park as being “outdoor living rooms.”
Gary Bailey and other neighbors discuss the design, including the large-scale South End feature painting by Allan Rohan Crite that will be featured prominently.
Visitors were treated to a 3-D walk-thru on site of the proposed design.
Members of the Planning Committee, including Regina Pyle, Jackie Cox Crite (Allan Rohan Crite’s widow), Cheryl Dickinson, Architect Monique Hall, Maryellen Hassell and Jennifer Girvin.
Architect Monique Hall, Crite Park Board President Cheryl Dickinson, and Jackie Cox Crite – the widow of painter Allan Rohan Crite.
An overview of the new park design, with the outdoor living rooms and new pergolas highlighted.