Monroe Park facing east
|Operated by||City of Richmond|
|Part of||Monroe Park Historic District (#84003572)|
|Designated CP||July 05, 1984|
Monroe Park is a 7.5 acres (3.0 ha) landscaped park located 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of the Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond, Virginia. It is named after James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825). The park unofficially demarcates the eastern "point" of the Fan District and is considered to be Richmond's oldest park.
Monroe Park is pentagonal in shape, with an arrangement of paved paths among lawns and mature deciduous trees, intersecting at a cast iron fountain in the center of the area. This Victorian park is currently in the planning process of a historically sensitive, extensive renovation. The "Monroe Park Advisory Council", an organization constituted by Richmond City Councilman William Pantele in 2003, in partnership with the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Commununity Facilities and Richmond's Department of Community Development are leading the renovation initiative.
The land on which the Park is located was purchased by the City of Richmond in 1851 at the cost of $13,592.56. Originally, the land was used as the State Agricultural Fair Grounds in the mid-19th century. During the American Civil War the area was used as a military camp and military hospital. A central stone fountain was donated by U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Albert Ordway in 1872. It was later replaced with the current cast iron fountain in the early twentieth century. A bronze monument to Williams Carter Wickham was erected in the Park in 1891. Monroe Park was home to the City's first baseball games.
As of now, artificial lighting of the park is relatively poor, though there are plans to significantly improve lighting in the near term. The Park also attracts homeless people, in part due to the proximity of the park to various charitable churches and feeding programs in the area. Monroe Park is currently the site of numerous feedings for homeless and other needy people on Friday and Saturday.
Monroe Park is home to many squirrels, pigeons, and wild birds. The park contains many trees: some very old and large, such as Magnolias and Oaks, that have existed for many decades. Certain specimens have been nominated for the Remarkable Trees of Virginia program. The plantings surrounding the fountain are maintained by the "Friends of Monroe Park," a private park advocacy group.