Connect with us

Hampton Roads Community News

Norfolk’s Barraud Park To Get $4.5M Facelift

Norfolk’s historic Barraud Park is set to undergo a $4.5M facelift, addressing accessibility and parking to enhance its appeal and historical significance.



By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

Norfolk City Councilwoman Mamie Johnson has been soliciting ideas from residents living adjacent to Barraud Park on what they would like to see in the park slated for redevelopment in 2024.

She said the city will spend $4.5 million for the project and has already invested in upgrading the shoreline along the Lafayette River as part of flood mitigation.

She said once the project gets underway late next year, the park will be closed off.

The 17 acres site is located in the Barraud Park neighborhood, adjacent to the Lindenwood and Cottage Heights communities in the northeastern section of the city off Tidewater Drive.

The origins of the park date back to the mid-1920s. It was the first one funded by Norfolk to serve the African-American community during the days of Jim Crow segregation. It is one of five parks run by the city.

According to Darrell Crittenden, Director of the City Parks, and Councilwoman Johnson, one of the most critical needs is addressing accessibility and parking at the park.

Both officials said Barraud is one of the most heavily patronized parks in the city, especially on the weekend.

But it is isolated in the Barraud Park Community. Johnson said the aim of the project is to open it up and improve the flow of traffic.

Once upon a time, the city’s boxing program was located in a small structure in the park. That program has been relocated to the Park Place area.

Prior to the mid-1920s, African-American civic leaders sought to convince the city to build a major park or some recreation site for Black residents in the city.

Blacks only had makeshift recreation spaces and several small parks in Berkley, Brambleton, and Lambert’s Point. They were not allowed to set foot in Lafayette Park unless they were picking up trash along Granby Street.

In 1926 the city finally bought land from the Barraud family to be used for “colored” recreation. The park was formally opened in August 1928.

According to the New Journal and Guide archives, the planning of the grand opening was coordinated by “colored” playground supervisors of Brambleton, Lambert’s Point, and Berkley.

These prominent Black leaders spoke at the opening. There were sporting events, cookouts, and musical concerts by a “colored” military band from Berkley.

At one point since its opening, there was a zoo, which was separate and not equal to the one in the Lafayette Park area. Black patrons and civic leaders complained the Black zoo had a few scrawny monkeys

The park was used by the Booker T. Washington High School’s various sports programs and band practices.

Black baseball games, track meets and various political and social rallies and gatherings were held.

Eventually, an amphitheatre was built at the site, as well, as tennis, basketball courts, and the still favorite horseshoe pit.

Old-timers recall that Arthur Ashe commuted from Richmond to play matches and practice at the site because the law forbade him from using whites-only facilities in Richmond.

Please follow and like us:
%d bloggers like this: