Monroe Park is one of Richmond’s most culturally, historically and environmentally significant public spaces.
Once a state fairground and later a military encampment, the registered historic park forms the western edge of Richmond’s downtown and borders a prominent gateway into the city.
The park now provides passage and respite to an ever-increasing student body at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as well as to residents of the surrounding Carver, Oregon Hill, Jackson Ward, Monroe Ward and Fan neighborhoods.
The park also serves as the front door to the renovated Altria Theater and will be a block away from VCU’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
2003, City Councilman, Bill Pantele appointed the following individuals to serve on the Monroe Park Advisory Council:
- Dave Clinger, West Franklin Street & Historian
- Patricia R. Daniels, West Main Street & Dept. PRCF Foundation
- James C. Hill, Carver
- Elinor Kuhn, Prestwould (in 2006)
- Alice Massie, Monument Avenue & Garden Clubs
- Larry Miller, Dept. Parks Recreation & Community Facilities
- Janice Hall Nuckolls, HMAFD Foundation
- Eddie O’Leary, VCU Student Government
- Brian Ohlinger, VCU Associate Vice President of Facilities
- John O. Peters, Prestwould
- Turk Sties, Near West Team
- Todd Woodson, Oregon Hill
2004, establishment of the Monroe Park Advisory Council, MPAC, studied detrimental uses of the park, which lead a Park Master Planning Effort. The group, originally formed to address unauthorized parking.
2006-2008, Master Planning, Richmond’s Department of Community Development and Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities, in conjunction with the Monroe Park Advisory Council and consultant, Rhodeside and Harwell Community outreach effort. Such research and community input led the team to identify particular programmatic objectives for the project, material palettes, and a historic period of significance (1904) to which the Park is to be restored.
- Virginia Department of Historic Resources
- City of Richmond Urban Design Committee
- February, 2008, City of Richmond’s Planning Commission
2009, Construction Documents
MPCA worked closely with City Staff, 3north Architects and 3north’s consultant team (Draper Aden, WaterStreet Studio, Dunlap & Partners and Domingo Gonzalez Associates) to carry the Master Plan forward and create detailed construction documents.
3north and its team of consultants began work in early 2009, studying the Master Plan and park conditions. A 1/4-inch scale model of the proposed park improvements was constructed to be used as a presentation and consensus-building tool. With regular input from the Monroe Park Advisory Council and other stakeholders, construction documents were fully developed and presented to City Staff and Agencies for approval.
2010, Survey and educate City staff and citizens; 3D model of Park built.
2011, Establishment of the Monroe Park Conservancy, nonprofit 501(3)(c)
2012, Feasibility Study
- VCU’s role and partnership
- Research and preparation for Lease Agreement
- Operating Agreement between the City and VCU police forces
- Preliminary Fundraising
March 2014, Lease Agreement is unanimously adopted by Richmond City Council
September 2016, Fundraising Goal of $3 million to match the City of Richmond’s $3 million is accomplished.
November 2016, Construction began. The overall construction is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. Unfortunately the extremely wet weather delayed the opening.
September 27, 2018, Reopening and Ribbon Cutting by Mayor Levar Stoney and VCU President, Dr. Michael Rao.