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Community Center in Chavis Park is about to reopen in Raleigh

After almost two years of construction, the John Chavis Memorial Park will soon be reopening.

A grand opening of the 29 hectare park southeast of the city center will take place on June 12 at 10.30 a.m. Visitors can explore the two-story community center, new square, water basin, and playground.

Chavis has long been a source of pride and inspiration to many in the community, said park director Grady Bussey. The work to open the park was a combination of efforts.

“You can see the joint effort of young and old, and those who are not from here, and those who have shown their respect here for many years,” he said.

The historic park was built in 1937 as a separate park for the black residents of Raleigh. Its rides and large swimming pool drew African Americans from all over the southeast to the park. Fought in the Revolutionary War, John Chavis was a free black, teacher and minister who opened a private school in Raleigh. The park itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It was very important in this process that we pay tribute to those who laid the foundation stone for John Chavis Memorial Park,” said Bussey. “We are aware that most of the locations in history have not shown the kind of energy and respect they deserve.”

The new 41,600 square meter community center has six meeting rooms, a gym with an elevated walking path, and a balcony on the second floor with a view of the new playground and the expanse of water towards the city center.

A stained glass collage called “Chavis Reclaimed” by Durham artist David Wilson was installed on the second floor, showing images of photos taken in the park by Chavis neighbors.

001.jpg A glass collage greets visitors to the second floor of the new community center at John Chavis Memorial Park in Raleigh, NC on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. A grand opening of the 29-acre park with a new two-story community center, Plaza, Splash Pad and Playground will take place at 10:30 am on June 12th. Ethan Hyman [email protected]

The first time he walked through the front doors of the community center, Bussey brought tears to his eyes, he said.

“Just being a part of something like this and having the opportunity to serve a community that meant so much to Raleigh – all you can do is be humble,” he said.

The $ 18 million park renovation was funded by a 2014 park loan, and the city has been criticized by the community for the long construction time. Now the Raleigh City Council is considering another park loan in the next local elections, which could pay for a planned water center in the park. The long-term bath was closed in 2017.

I look forward to the opportunity for a pool to return to Chavis Park, ”said Councilor Corey Branch. “It’s part of the parking lot, and when it’s finally on the ballot, we’ll see what people say.”

He is very happy, he said, for the neighborhood and community organizations that fought for this renovation and are now seeing their work bear fruit.

Want to go?

What: Inauguration of the John Chavis Memorial Park

Where: Chavis Park, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Raleigh. Additional parking spaces are available at Chavis Way 720.

When: 10:30 a.m. June 12

Free

Activities: The community center, the playground, the central square and the water play area will be open. The historic carousel will be open to drivers and will be free of charge. Food trucks will be on hand to buy groceries. When playing in the splash pad, people should dry themselves off before entering the community center.

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Anna Johnson reports on Raleigh and Wake Counties for News & Observer. She previously reported on city government, crime, and the economy for newspapers across North Carolina and received many awards from the North Carolina Press Association, including first place for investigative reporting. She is an alumna of Elon University in 2012.
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