A new 50-acre park in Durham to honor prominent black figures

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DURHAM, North Carolina (WNCN) — A new 50-acre park in Durham will open this weekend, and the park’s name will honor two prominent black figures.

Durham Parks and Recreation will host a grand opening celebration for Merrick-Moore Park at 632 N. Hoover Road on Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m.

The park is named after the nearby community named after John Merrick and Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore. Merrick was co-founder and president of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. The company became the largest black-owned business in the country.

Moore was the city’s first black doctor and played a key role in establishing Durham’s Black Wall Street, the Durham Colored Library, and Lincoln Hospital, the city’s first black-run hospital.

The city said the pair are credited with earning Durham the reputation as ‘the capital of the black middle class’.

The construction of the park cost $8.6 million. It includes 25 acres of landscaped grounds, four natural grass soccer fields, parking with electric vehicle charging stations, a 3,000 square foot picnic shelter with a ceiling fan and restrooms.

Durham says the park was made possible by the Durham Parks Foundation.

Further improvements are expected to be completed in early 2023. These changes include a playground, art sculptures, walking paths, and other park amenities.

At Saturday’s grand opening, the public will be invited to provide feedback on playground design options and preview concept designs for a future entrance sculpture.

“We are absolutely delighted to be providing the first new park in over 10 years for all of Durham to enjoy,” said DPR manager Wade Walcutt. “Since we led the way, we have created several opportunities for Merrick-Moore Elementary students and the Merrick-Moore neighborhood to tell us exactly what they want and they have helped us design many aspects of the park, making it a community driven process. While football fields are certainly a necessary feature for the community, many other amenities have been and will be added which will make this a park for all to enjoy.

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