On Friday, The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced the addition of 144 acres to T.O. Fuller State Park, a donation to the park by philanthropists Hugh and Margaret Jones Fraser and the Carrington Jones family of Memphis.
Carrington Jones and his son, William Carrington Jones, who died in 2018, owned, farmed and developed land near the park. Margaret Jones Fraser and her brother, Mason Jones, visited the park as children and developed a love of the outdoors. The family wants to give back to the community and is donating various parcels of land.
Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said, “We are fortunate to have such wonderful conservationists as Hugh and Margaret Jones Fraser and the Carrington Jones family, and we want to thank them for this generous gift to our state parks. T.O. Fuller State Park holds a special place in the history of our parks and is the only state park in Memphis. This will be a great addition.”
According to its website, T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area initiated construction of the park facilities in 1938. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African-American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author, who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. Dr. Fuller served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to Lemoyne-Owen College, for 27 years.
The park, now spanning over 1,200 acres, contains diverse landscapes with over 200 total plant species identified. The park also includes eight miles of trails, four shelters, 35 picnic tables, and basketball courts. The state-of-the-art T.O. Fuller Interpretive Center is located within the park’s Wildlife Enhancement Area.
– – –
Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]