Douglass Park and Douglass Center

Douglass Park and Douglass Center

Image Credit:
Left: Douglass Center, c. late 1940s, Champaign County Archives, Urbana Free Library, Urbana, Illinois │ Right: Douglass Center, Courtesy of Champaign Park District

510-512 E. Grove St., Champaign, IL

The Park and Center are named for the great African American orator and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. In 1941, the Douglass Community Service Committee began an effort to raise funds for a new complex, to be built on two empty lots. Ground broke in 1944 and the Center was completed in 1946. The Center held classes in art, music, and sewing, among other activities. Athletics included adult softball, baseball, basketball, track, and tennis. The Center hosted many social events. One of the groups that brought national recognition to the Center was its Drum and Bugle Corps and Drill Team. In 1975, 200 residents protested the decision by the Park Board to demolish the old Douglass Center and replace it with a new gym. The group advocated for the old Center to be replaced with a new, full-service, comprehensive Center. After much discussion between the community and the Park Board, the “old” Center was torn down and a new Center was constructed. It opened on December 12, 1976. In March 1978, the Douglass Annex opened with a focus on senior citizens, and in 1997 the Douglass Branch Library moved into its current site. 📍

Decade:

1940-1949

Location(s):

  • Champaign, Illinois

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