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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sam Houston Park - Downtown

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I got sick right before Thanksgiving and have not fully recovered. I've not been out walking until today. We were looking for an easy walk close to home. Here's what we found. Today's walk is not my usual "nature" walk, but a really pretty walk nonetheless. Hope you'll try it out.

Introduction:Sam Houston Park, the home of many relocated historical Houston homes, was the first city park in Houston, created back in 1900. I couldn't find out how big it is, but I'm guessing between 10 and 15 acres.

The park is located on the corner of Bagby and Lamar Streets downtown. It is divided into three parts separated by city streets. The part with the trail is bounded by McKinney, I-45, Bagby and Allen Parkway. The park with Heritage Society museum is bounded by Allen Parkway, Bagby and I-45. The final part with the Kellum-Noble house and the museum parking area is bounded by Clay, Bagby, I-45 and Allen Parkway. The Heritage Society website encourages you to park in the museum parking lot and can be reached from Clay or Allen Parkway. We parked directly on Allen Parkway because it was Saturday. It is illegal to park there on weekdays.

Maps of the park can be found at:

Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Scoring: Walking = 3 Nature = 2.5
Walking: The sidewalked path is fairly short. To make it a decent length walk, you have to combine it with city streets, and possibly Tranquility Park. The walk has an incline in a loop around the bandstand (looks like a gazebo).

Nature: Even though it is downtown among tall buildings and freeways, the park is pretty with very large oaks and bald cypress. The pond is surrounded by cypress knees. There is a lot of noise due to the freeways adjacent to the park.

Background: This park was the first city park in Houston. In 1900, the then Mayor of Houston, Sam Brashier, bought the Kellem-Noble land and house on the edge of town. He created Sam Houston Park. In 1954, it also became the home of the Heritage Society. The Society has a small museum, and many old houses on the property. There is a pond and a bandstand, a small wooden bridge and a statue dedicated to the heroes of the Civil War. There is a fountain in the pond and also a really pretty Zen-like garden with benches, a fountain and two statues of coyotes around the pond.

Also located on The Heritage Society campus in Sam Houston Park, at the corner of Bagby and Lamar Streets, is a small museum, The Heritage Society Museum, dedicated to preserving Houston's history.

Coolest Thing About Park:It's downtown, but has a real outdoors feel. I loved the juxtaposition of the tall buildings to the huge oaks and green space. Plus, we were there on an absolutely gorgeous winter day and there were only two other people in the park. We had it all to ourselves. We saw ducks with tiny babies swimming in the pond.

Trails:Other things you'll want to know:

1. There is no lighting in the park. Would not recommend walking there after dark as it is lower than the surrounding area and thus hidden from public view.

2. We made it a longer walk by walking up Bagby, behind City Hall, one block to connect with Tranquility Park. Tranquility park is small also, but has really interesting fountains and walkways. It was created to commemorate the first moon landing on July 20th, 1969. Tranquility Park is at Walker and Risk east of Smith St. Officially it is at 400 Rusk St. We returned to Sam Houston Park by walking around the reflection pond in the front of City Hall.

3. The Heritage Society Museum is open to the public Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. –4:00 p.m. and Sundays 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission to The Heritage Society Museum is free. This is where the bathrooms and water are.

4. Only wildlife we saw were squirrels and ducks and fish. The pond had a huge koi swimming along the bank.

5. The walkway around the bandstand in Sam Houston park has an incline, but it's very gradual. Might be difficult for wheelchairs.

Feel free to add any comments you think would be useful to others about this park.


At Fri Dec 29, 04:22:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog and your walks!! Well thought out and easy to read-I hope to come back more often. Cheers from Canada!!

At Fri Dec 29, 04:23:00 PM CST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog and your walks. Very easy to read and well thought out - I will return again. Cheers from Canada!!

At Fri Dec 29, 05:16:00 PM CST, Blogger lifeunfolds.com said...

Ocean and forest Walks: It's good to hear from you. I love your ID name. As a city girl, I'm always looking for places to walk where I feel like I'm actuall IN nature, not just watching it from afar. Have a safe and incredibly joyous New Year!


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