As Grand as Celebration Bridge, Pfluger Unveils Plans for $870,000 Public Park
SAN ANGELO, TX — Lee Pfluger unveiled the plans for Heritage Park Tuesday afternoon at the Cactus Hotel. The small park is 25 years in the making, he said, and part of the 1992 study created by the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team, or R/UDAT, that Pfluger chaired. The park will be built in the vacant lot adjacent the former Sealy Flats on the corner of E. Twohig Ave. and S. Oakes St.
Pfluger said the other big project to come out of R/UDAT of similar size and importance was Celebration Bridge, the concrete walking bridge across the North Concho River located behind the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts. The Heritage Park will have equal significance to downtown San Angelo and will contribute to the definition of the city, Pfluger said.
Local architect Henry Schmidt, who has built his career upon fixing the old buildings in San Angelo’s historic downtown, designed Heritage Park. Central to the park is its educational component. It will tell the story of San Angelo for tourists and visitors, Pfluger said. In the middle of the lot, underneath three giant fabricated steel leaves that will cost more than $100,000 each, will be a multi-media display about San Angelo’s long gone founders and the landmarks they left behind. Attached to the adjacent Sealy Flats building will be a historic rain harvesting display and the park will have Wi-Fi Internet access.
Above: An overhead view of the park designed by San Angelo architect Henry Schmidt. (Heritage Park)
J. Willis Johnson III’s family handed down the lot through the generations. Johnson’s grandfather, J. Willis Johnson, Sr., was the tax collector and Sheriff of Tom Green County, circa 1890s, and became the owner of about 90,000 acres in the county, making him the largest landowner back in the day. Johnson’s grandson donated the lot for the park.
Above: Looking down at the lot as it looks today. In 2018, the lot will be transformed with Heritage Park. (Heritage Park)
Pfluger said the original vision was to use the park to locate a commissioned bronze statue of a cowboy on a horse to commemorate the ranching legacy of the region. Over time, however, the Heritage Park committee, with the aid of Schmidt the architect, developed a much grander vision that still incorporates the statue.
Above: Lee Pfluger holds up the 1992 study called R/UDAT and said it contains the original vision for the Heritage Park. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The park will cost $870,000, and most of it was raised with private donations. About $150,000 of the $870,000 cost for the park will fund an endowment through the San Angelo Area Foundation to pay for annual maintenance. The committee is still raising money needed for the endowment and for that, the San Angelo Area Foundation is selling engraved pavers. Two brick sizes are available, a 4x8-inch brick with 42 characters for $500, and an 8x8-inch brick with 84 characters for your inscription.
Because the park will be maintained with money from the endowment, it will not involve the City of San Angelo and spare the taxpayers the expense of the park's upkeep.
The groundbreaking for the park is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Here is an interesting tidbit about Heritage Park. In the 1992 R/UDAT report, the original location suggested for what the study called a “pocket park” was the vacant lot next to Blaine’s Pub in the unit block of W. Harris Ave.
For more on the behind-the-scenes politics of Heritage Park, see Titans of Downtown Clash over Visions of its Revitalization.