Washington Spotlight: The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens

Welcome to the first feature of our new series recognizing the wonderful local nonprofit organizations that play a major role in contributing to the culture of our community here in Washington.

The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens is a vibrant hub for the Washington community. Formerly an abandoned gas station, the property was transformed into a park by a small group of local residents who wanted to beautify this central space and create “a town square” for the community to enjoy — together. Today, its mission is to be a gathering place in Washington that invites friends and neighbors to relax, learn, play, and share all that our community offers.

 

About the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens:

For years, the property was an empty gas station, an eyesore at the crossroads of town. In 2013, a determined small group of local business people came together with the vision to transform the lot into a community park. With the support of generous donors, the group (Michael Ackerman, Barbara Bouyea, Peter Talbot, Denise Trevenen, and John Millington) purchased the property, formed the Washington Park Foundation, and began to raise funds to refurbish and transform the property.

It was then that Judy Black, a local resident of 30 years, offered the legacy Leadership Gift that would enable the foundation to build the Judy Black Park and Gardens, a beautiful community garden with a renovated building in the heart of Washington Depot. A lover of gardens, Judy was actively involved in the design of the outdoor space. Committed to our community, she insisted that local professionals and vendors do the landscaping and construction of the garden. Months later, she passed away, and in 2015 the park was renamed the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens, officially opening in 2016 with a dedication ceremony.

Before (the abandoned gas station) and After (the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens)

 

A Beloved Community Park

Every year, thanks to its part-time Executive Director, Laura Neminski, hands-on Board of Trustees, and other dedicated volunteers, the park hosts many of the town’s favorite events and new beloved traditions.

Countless exhibits feature works by talented local and national artists, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind arts and culture experience. The Farmers Market opens each spring and brings together vendors and visitors from near and far every Saturday until late fall. During the summer, the park presents outdoor movies, live concerts, plays, activities for children, and interactive community events, in addition to its annual FUNraiser event.

Farmers Market at the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens.
Music concerts at the Judy Black Park.

During the holiday season, families enjoy fun and festive activities at the town’s annual Holiday in the Depot. Year-round, visitors can relax or picnic on the park grounds, enjoying what’s in bloom and the outdoor art installations, such as the Currents sculpture by Mark Mennin.

Laura Neminski, Executive Director
“I think the most important role of the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens is that it brings the community together. We hold many amazing events throughout the year, and most are free and open to everyone.”
– Laura Neminski, Executive Director

Upcoming Events

Early in the new year, the Judy Black Park invites you to enjoy an array of cultural and family community events, including:

Art @the Park: “Good Night My Love” Exhibit
January 5th – February 10th, 2022 – A special exhibit with KMR Arts, showcasing the works of Ernest C. Withers and featuring iconic images from the Civil Rights era.

Big Game Watch Party
Sunday, February 13th, 2022 – A viewing party for the biggest football event of the year!

Art @the Park
February 15th – March 31st, 2022 – A joint exhibit with works by Karen Bonanno and Heather Scofield.

Karyn Detje, Board President
“We are grateful to our community for their wonderful support. The operations of the Judy Black Park depend entirely on the generous donations from individual donors and business sponsors, as well as the many hours and skills donated by our board and other volunteers. “
– Karyn Detje, Board President

Visit the Judy Black Park and Gardens

The park is open for visitors year-round. To learn more about the latest happenings at the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens, follow them on social media on Facebook and Instagram, and click to sign up for emails, volunteer or donate.

For more information, visit their website at thejudyblackparkandgardens.org.

Art exhibits are on view at the park all year round.
Visitors enjoy the park and “Currents" sculpture by Mark Mennin, 2016.
Movie nights in the heart of town at Judy Black Park. Photo credit: M3 Media Productions
Theatre for Good performance at the park. Photo credit: Lindsey Victoria Photography
Family activities throughout the year.
Holiday exhibit at the park during Holiday in the Depot.
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