Wooldridge Square

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Austin, TX
United States
Wooldridge Square

Situated between the Travis County Courthouse and the Austin Public Library (both built in the 1930s), this one-acre park was one of four public squares designated in Edwin Waller’s plan for the city in 1839. The site, with naturally undulating topography, was often inundated with water from seasonal springs—with a four-foot-deep pond present part of the year. Although conditions were improved when a culvert was installed in 1900, the parcel was used as a neighborhood dump for several years. Finally, in 1909, Mayor A.P. Wooldridge approved and funded improvements to the park. Mature trees were preserved and new ones planted, fill was added to prevent flooding, and sod was installed. A Classic Revival pergola designed by architect Charles Page was erected in the center of the park, taking advantage of the site’s natural acoustics. In 1917 a slightly serpentine path was added, connecting the park’s northwest and southeast corners.

Over the years, the park has been the setting for numerous social gatherings and political addresses, including the launch of Lyndon Johnson’s senatorial campaign in 1948. In 2012 a consortium of preservation organizations, led by Friends of Wooldridge Square, commenced renovation of the landscape and bandstand. Today, a number of mature live oaks and pecans shade expanses of lawn, while the gazebo remains a focal point. Of the four parcels designated in Waller’s plan, Wooldridge Square is the only one to be continually used as a public park. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.