George Ward Park
|George Ward Park
|Birmingham City Parks
|1901 Green Springs Avenue, (map)
George Ward Park is an 84-acre Birmingham city park located in the Glen Iris neighborhood of the Southside community. The property was purchased and dedicated as Idlewild Park park during the administration of Birmingham City Commission president George Ward, but was largely unimproved. It formally opened to the public as Green Springs Park in 1925.
The adjoining Idlewild Circle was developed as a residential subdivision by the Jemison Companies. Idlewild Hills, extending south from the circle, was developed by Frank Nelson Jr's Southwest Land Improvement Company in the 1940s.
Beginning in 2007 the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Red Mountain Garden Club and Little Garden Club began a campaign to plant new tree saplings in the park. Their plan was to germinate seedlings from the park's existing trees. Seeds were collected in 2008 and the saplings transferred to the park in Autumn 2009. Subsequent study indicated that about a third of the newly-planted saplings had survived, and were accompanied by volunteer trees and other herbaceous plants in the restoration area.
The Green Springs Villa was erected in 1933 with WPA labor as a recreation center for the park. It was left mostly unused and was vandalized before a 1950 project to restore it, with new interior wall murals by Alice Schaefer and Elizabeth Noble.
George Ward Park features six lighted softball diamonds, one of which has been used by the UAB Blazers softball team as their home field. Five of the fields are clustered in a star shape ringed by trees with a five-sided pressbox in the center. The fields are used by several leagues, including the Green Springs Park Softball Leagues and are managed by the Birmingham Amateur Softball Association.
The north end of the park has a tennis center with eight hard-surface outdoor courts. The courts are managed by the Birmingham Area Tennis Association.
The park holds a 24-hole disc golf course, which was completed in 1990. The course features concrete tees with 13 holes of less than 300 feet, 9 holes between 300-400 feet, and two holes of greater than 400 feet. The total course length is approximately 7,200 feet.
On October 17, 2009 the City of Birmingham dedicated the area's first public dog park at George Ward Park. The 2.6 acre fenced-in section included double gates and dividers for large and small dogs. Lobbying and planning for the park was undertaken by Bark for a Park.
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Despite vandals, Green Springs Villa is open to public again for season" (March 1951) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- PDGA Online Disc Golf Course Directory (July 24, 2006)
- "Parks Named for Clayton and Ward" (January 16, 1952) Birmingham Post-Herald - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Singleton, William C. III (October 17, 2009) "Barking up the right tree: City opens dog park."The Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (October 23, 2009) "New trees being planted from originals in George Ward Park in Birmingham, Alabama." The Birmingham News
- Rowan, Caroline (December 2014) "Reforesting Birmingham’s Historic George Ward Park with seedlings grown from seeds collected from native trees." Birmingham-Southern College
- Gross, Francesca (n.d.) "Restoring the Olmstead Oaks" Trek Birmingham