Friday, July 9, 2021

Brewer's Park

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center posted about Baseball Parks in Knoxville.

One of the parks mentioned in their article is Brewer Park, later to be known as Booker T. Washington Park.  In 1920 the Knoxville Giants, part of the Negro Southern League, would play their home games at Booker T. Washington Park.

What was it before then?  The first sporting event I can find is for the Knoxville College football team to host Fisk University in a football game in mid November of 1907.

The Journal and Tribune - November 15, 1907
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The first baseball game mentioned was the next year, in 1908 when the teams of Knoxville College played the YMCA.

The Journal and Tribune - June 8, 1908
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A week and a half later the Colored YMCA hosted the Athens team at Brewers Park.  Pitching for the locals was Beck, presumably James Beck.

The Journal and Tribune - June 17, 1908
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Where was Brewers Park located?  A 1916 city engineering map shows the location at the corner of Spring Avenue (now Lay) and Harrison Street.

1916 Knoxville Engineering map of Brewers Park

In the spring of 1908 improvements were planned for Brewer Park.  A pavilion and grand stand were in the works.  

The Journal and Tribune - May 14, 1908

In mid June of 1908 citizens of Park City filed an injunction against William A. Brewer, manager of Brewer Park, to have the park closed.  The citizens were concerned about the behavior of those congregating at the park.  They were considered to be intoxicated and indulged in coarse, profane, loud and vulgar language and immoral practices.

The injunction was dismissed in June of 1909 because there wasn't sufficient evidence.  Residents then wanted to appeal the court's decision and close the park

The Knoxville City League scheduled games at the end of June, 1908.  These games show that the park was open to white teams as well.

In early May of 1909 the park opened for its second season.

Near the end of July 1909 white fans were invited to attend a game between the Coca-Cola Stars of Knoxville and the Chattanooga Giants.

Brewer Park wasn't only used for baseball and dancing.  In August of 1909 it was announced that the First Annual Fair of the Colored Race was to be held.  Agriculture, live stock, mechanics, and women's exhibits were to be a part of it.  Booker Washington was scheduled to make an address at the three day event.

In the spring of 1910 William H. Brewer died.  He is buried at Freedman's Mission Historic Cemetery (Knoxville College).  The next month it was reported that the sale of Brewer Park from Allie S. Brewer (William's wife) and Lewis Spears to Walter Kennedy was being filed in Chancery Court.

Throughout much of the decade of the 'teens, the park was used for both Colored and city league games, as well as other activities such as the Negro Commercial Celebration (1912), Concerts and Picnics (1914), Negro Masons Grand Lodge 45th Grand Communication (1915), Emancipation Day Activities (1917), Liberty Bond Meeting (1918), and a Fourth of July Celebration (1919).

1920 saw another change at Brewer's Park.  A Negro stock company purchased the park, renamed it Booker T. Washington Park

Knoxville Sentinel - April 29, 1920
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The formation of the Negro Stock Company is too involved to be included in this post.

So, what is on the land now?  Homes.

Location of Former Brewer's Park / Booker T. Washington Park
image from Google Maps

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