Hayes Park is located on the site of the former Warren Avenue Baptist Church. Completed in 1866, the red brick Gothic church cost $105,000 to construct and seated 1,300 people. In 1920, when the congregation rejoined the First Baptist Church on Commonwealth Avenue -- which it had left in 1742-- it sold the Warren Avenue building. By the early 1960s, the church had been abandoned, and became the target of arsonists. After a fire destroyed much of the building in 1967, the city razed the structure.

In 1970, community activists convinced the city to turn the vacant lot into a park honoring James Hayes, the much-beloved head of a well-known South End family. Mr. Hayes and his family lived on West Canton Street for more than 50 years, and many Hayes family members still live in the neighborhood. The church was not forgotten, however; its cornerstone was rescued and can be seen on the sidewall of 156 Warren Avenue (and it now serves as the symbol of the Friends). During its early days, the park was a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but lack of funds led to its falling into disrepair.

In 1987, a group of civic-minded neighbors formed The Friends of Hayes Park, Inc., and entered into a public-private partnership with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”) to update and redesign the park. The group secured major capital funds and worked closely with Ann Johnson, a landscape architect formerly with the BRA, to devise a comprehensive park plan. The landscape design included in that plan sought to provide interest and color throughout the seasons, while the park’s new layout ensured that people of all ages would find enjoyment there.

In June, 1992, Hayes Park was rededicated and the original sculpture “West Canton Street Child” by internationally-acclaimed sculptor and West Canton Street denizen Kahlil Gibran was installed in the circular center bed. The park’s overall plan has proven to be a marvelous success: more than an estimated 1,200 people come every year to enjoy the eleven Aristocrat pear trees, the 800 Holland tulips forming a riot of color in the center bed each spring, and the Betty Prior roses flowering throughout the summer.  Every day finds children of all ages climbing the structure and playing in the sand.  Since the founding of the Friends, more than $165,000 has been raised to maintain the park and periodically update its design. 

In 1992, Hayes Park received three awards for outstanding design: The Boston Society of Landscape Architects presented Ann Johnson with a Merit Award for Park Design in recognition of superior professional accomplishment for the design of Hayes Park; the Massachusetts Horticultural Society awarded the park the Urban Landscape Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in landscape design in public places; and The Boston Preservation Alliance gave Hayes Park its Landscape Award for sensitive design in an historical landmark district.


The History of Hayes Park


Boston Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award for Park Design

Massachusetts Horticultural Society Urban Landscape Award

The Boston Preservation Alliance Landscape Award for Sensitive Design in an Historical Landmark District

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