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  • Writer's pictureBrandi & Candace

Centennial Park

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Name: Centennial Park

Address: 2500 West End Ave, 37203

History: 5 out of 5

Walkability: 5 out of 5

Kid Like-ability- 5 out of 5

Date Night-ability- 5 out of 5

Charm: 5 out of 5

It’s amazing to me that it’s taken me so long to get to Centennial Park. It really is the heart of the Nashville Parks system. It’s about halfway through some major renovations at the moment, which is why we’ve hesitated. But we’re running out of time on our list so we needed to go. Luckily, only about half of it is closed off to the public. The history of this park is VAST and could fill a book on its own, but here’s the highlights:

It originally was purchased in 1783 by John Cockrill. After the Civil War it was gifted to the city and was the state fairgrounds. From 1884 to 1895, it was named the West Side Park and hosted a racetrack. The Centennial Exposition, a statewide celebration of the state’s 100th birthday, included displays across the state- the center being the Parthenon, a replica of the original. Over 1.8 million people came to see it during the year long Centennial celebration. When it closed, in October 1897, the city began to discuss at length how to preserve it. Percy Warner purchased the land with his private money, and then donated to the Nashville Park Board in 1902. In 1903, it opened with a swimming pool, a lake, flower gardens, a sunken garden, and walkways. The Park Board acquired neighboring residential properties, expanding the size of the park, over several years. The community center was built in 1916. The Parthenon was reconstructed in 1921. The locomotive was added in 1953. The fighter plane was added in 1961, but left in 2017. Today, the park stands at 125 acres, with a community center, playground, public restrooms, picnic shelters, a band shell, a dog park, volleyball courts, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a paved walking/jogging path, and Lake Watuga. Today, it’s about halfway through a four year, $5 million renovation. One of the newest updates includes a beautiful monument to the women’s suffrage movement, and some beautiful new stone walkways. It’s hosted craft fairs, festivals, Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park, concerts, holiday displays, and millions of other events.

This park has everything, and has something for everyone. It’s historic, and an important piece of the Nashville cultural landscape.

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