Aerial historic image of John Chavis Memorial Park


John Chavis Memorial Park Cultural Interpretive Plan and Exhibit Design

Honoring Our Past. Celebrating our Community.

The purpose and goals of the project are to develop a cohesive Cultural Interpretive Plan for the park as recommended in the Honoring The Past section of the 2014 Revised Master Plan for John Chavis Memorial Park. This plan will build off the recommendations and work completed in previous efforts to tell the story. All documents related to the 2014 Revised Master Plan, South Park Heritage Walk Report, Historic Designation Report, SPERNA Knowledge Maps and John Chavis Brochure, Public Art efforts, and independent staff research.  

The process will design, fabricate, and install an interpretive element based on the recommendations of the plan. Current funding allows for a phased approach beginning with the development of a Cultural Heritage Interpretive Plan and first phase exhibit installation, which must be completed in time for an early summer 2021 ribbon-cutting ceremony. A site has been pre-selected for the first phase exhibit to be installed outside of the newly renovated historic Carousel House.


Project Details

Project Lead:
Luke Wallenbeck
Signature Design Collaborative



Luke Wallenbeck

Lead Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Participating Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Service Unit:




The interpretive plan creates a cohesive approach to the ways the City engages park visitors with historical resources, natural features, and community stories related to John Chavis Memorial Park. The interpretive plan builds on previous City and community planning efforts. 

Interpretive content is organized into a series of key messages for visitors. Interpretive elements, programs, and events should convey these messages, both explicitly and

implicitly, offering visitors layers of stories about the park, encouraging more discovery, and even inviting visitors to contribute to the story.

The interpretive plan also defines interpretive design criteria and makes recommendations for interpretive elements including digital and interactive features as well as ideas for future programming and events that might reach patrons of all ages.

Finally, the document identifies investment priorities and creates a framework for how the plan might be implemented over time.

Download the Final Plan Document


Phase details coming soon.


Phase details coming soon.



The John Chavis Memorial Park opened to the public in 1937. The park was named in honor of John Chavis (1763-1838), an African American minister, educator, and Revolutionary War veteran who lived and worked in Raleigh in the early 19th century.

Created during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, John Chavis Memorial Park was initially intended to serve the recreational needs of the local African American community. The park took on regional significance as it was the only recreational facility of its size, and with its range of amenities that African Americans could use between Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. During World War II, African American soldiers were stationed in the park, and the Works Progress Administration constructed several prominent features in the park around this time. In April 2016 John Chavis Memorial Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places highlighting numerous contributing structures still in use.


Timeline Phase
September - October 2020 Phase 1: Research and Community Engagement Kick-off
November - December 2020 Phase 2: Interpretive Plan and Concept Designs
January - March 2021 Phase 3: Design Development
April - June 2021 Phase 4: Fabrication and Installation


There are many stakeholders vested in the development of the future of John Chavis Memorial Park.  Public engagement will build on this strong foundation and include many opportunities to provide feedback during the design process.  Methods will include meetings (virtual and in-person), stakeholder discussions, online presence, hard copy distribution for non-computer users, and display of final concept.

Phase 1: Research and Community Engagement Kick-off

Public Meeting - November 5, 2020

Phase 2: Interpretive Plan and Concept Designs

Parks, Recreation and Greenways Advisory Board Meeting - November 19, 2020

The December 1, 2020, Public Open House has been canceled due to the increased Covid-19 related restrictions on gathering announced by the Governor on Monday, November 23. New opportunities will be provided to ensure community input is still possible and allow for the project to stay on schedule. 

Phase 3: Design Development

Public Meeting - January 14, 2021

Parks, Recreation and Greenways Advisory Board Meeting - February 18, 2021, 7 p.m. - Presentation of the Final Plan & Exhibit Design


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