Park History

In early 1917, the United States entered the First World War, and the War Department leased 7,600 acres of forest land on Buffalo Bayou about five miles west of what was then Houston to locate a training base named Camp Logan. More than 25,000 soldiers trained at the facility.

In 1923, when the camp hospital closed and the camp was deserted, Catherine Mary Emmott wrote to the Houston Chronicle suggesting that “the city buy some of the land and turn it into a park in memory of the boys.” In late 1923 and early 1924, Will and Mike Hogg, with minority owner Henry Stude, bought two tracts of former Camp Logan land, and then rather than develop it into a subdivision similar to River Oaks, sold the 1,503 acres to the city at cost. In May 1924, the city of Houston officially took title to the land and established Houston’s Memorial Park in memory of the soldiers who had trained there.

Soon after the city took possession of the land, nationally acclaimed landscape architects Hare & Hare of Kansas City, Missouri were hired to sketch out a plan for the park. Initial plans called for an 18-hole golf course, scenic drives, trails for hikers and “nature students,” bridle paths, and an amphitheater. Beautification was simply to involve existing vegetation. One newspaper reporter wrote, “Memorial Park... is to be kept in the wild state, almost entirely, and made a sanctuary for birds, small game, wild flowers, holly, and whatever else needs protection against man....These are the present plans for Memorial Park. It is up to the vigilance of the nature lovers of Houston in years to come to keep them so and prevent the civilizing of that park.”

In 1942, it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Wiess had given the city 8.84 acres of land on the west side of Memorial Park. The mayor at the time, Neal Pickett, felt that it should be added to the park, and the park boundaries were extended to include the Wiess tract.