College Park Memorial Park Cemetery
Founded in 1896, College Park Memorial Park Cemetery is one of Houston’s three oldest African-American Graveyards, along with Olivewood and Evergreen. The earliest legible grave marker dates to 1900, but with many unmarked graves and unreadable stones, it is likely that earlier burials exist.
College Memorial Park Cemetery takes its name from its location opposite the Houston College. It’s proximity to the Fourth Ward Neighborhood, which saw an influx of African American Migration and the establishment of a Freedmen’s Town after the Civil War, made this the primary burial ground for many religious, civic, education and business leaders of that community.
Among those buried here are: John Henry (Jack) Yates, a vital community leader, first Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church and founder of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church,, who encouraged property ownership among Black Houstonians; Fort Worth and Houston educator I.M. Terrell, who became principal of Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College, President of Houston College and Administrator of the Houston Negro Hospital; Veterans of both World Wars; and participants in the racial conflict now known as the Houston Riot of 1917. Jack Yates (d. 1897) originally was buried in Olivewood Cemetery, but was reinterred here after College Memorial Park Cemetery became operable.
Over the years, the burial ground has suffered from neglect and vandalism. Late 20th-century revitalization efforts sought to offset the earlier damage and to bring awareness to the cemetery as an important part of Houston’s culture and heritage.
The College Park Cemetery Association
The College Park Cemetery Association (CPCA) was created in 2010 as a Texas non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, to restore, preserve and maintain the historic College Memorial Park Cemetery (commonly known as College Park Cemetery).
College Memorial Park Cemetery, a five-acre site located at 3525 West Dallas Street in Houston, Texas, was founded in 1896 and served as the burial site for Houston’s freed slaves who lived in the historic Fourth Ward. Over the years, different entities maintained the Cemetery, but during the 1970’s, the Cemetery was all but abandoned, and became over grown with weeds and trees. Tombstones were stolen and/or vandalized, and the homeless made camp.
During 2007, a group of volunteers comprised of neighborhood residents, members from Historic Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, employees from the City of Houston, and other concerned citizens began restoring the Cemetery. To date, thousands of volunteers have mowed, trimmed weeds, cut down trees and cleaned up trash. The grounds are taking shape.
Money has been raised to improve the infrastructure of the Cemetery. A perimeter fence has been constructed. The resurfaced road gives visitors easy and safe access to the gravesites and historical markers. The added water service, drainage and irrigation help maintain the grounds. All improvements have been made with careful attention to the history of the Cemetery.
Additional projects underway include a prayer garden in the southwest corner of the Cemetery and a joint venture with St. Francis Memorial Garden Society for some notable improvements in the southeast corner.
Donations for the long term maintenance of the Cemetery are now being solicited. A fund has been established at The Greater Houston Community Foundation for the perpetual care of this piece of Houston’s history. College Park Cemetery receives no public funding, it is being maintained 100% by private donations. Online donations can be made by clicking DONATE.
The Cemetery Association is run by a volunteer Board of Directors and has no paid employees.