Conservancy History

When Will and Mike Hogg sold the property along Buffalo Bayou, they were determined that the city would continue to use it as they intended. Each of the deeds executed for the donative park sale carried the stipulation that the land was to be used "for park purposes only" or it would revert to the Hogg heirs. When the Hogg brothers died, their sister, Ima, was left to safeguard the park's interests. Miss Hogg carefully checked locations and proposed plans for "improvements" that were suggested. During the 50 years she guarded the park, there were more than 100 attempts to take over portions of it. Proposals that failed included a 50-acre fish hatchery, a site for a high school football stadium, a building for the Museum of Natural History, a site for the University of Houston, a 30-acre fishing lake, the Astrodome, and a site on which to drill for oil, to name but a few. Over the years only the Highway Department was able to wrest property away from Memorial Park. In 1961, the city sold 23 acres of land on the west side of the park for West Loop 610. In addition, the park lost acreage when Interstate 10 was constructed, Woodway built, and Memorial Drive widened.

In her later years, when Miss Hogg was no longer physically able to make inspection trips to inaccessible areas of the park, she appointed a committee to help her, and to serve in her stead when she was no longer alive. Sadie Gwin Blackburn, Terry Hershey and Frank C. Smith, Jr., members of the original Memorial Park Advisory Committee, continue to serve in that capacity today. In 1993, Chairman Sadie Gwin Blackburn asked permission from Bill Smith, then Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, to enlarge the committee to include representatives of the major user groups of the park. The committee, formally organized in 2000 as the Memorial Park Conservancy, now meets regularly to advise the city concerning park issues.