Feb 24, 2022

Alice Ball Park & Celebrating Black History Month

The City of Seattle honored Alice Augusta Ball by dedicating a new park, adjacent to the Greenwood Library, to her name – “Alice Ball Park,” which OCI landscape architects had the honor of designing in 2019. Located on a site formerly inhabited by drive-up businesses and asphalt parking, the small but mighty Alice Ball Park provides a civic space that connects neighbors and provides flexible, generous public space. The design of the park stemmed directly from understanding what the community most valued, a versatile open place to come together and build goodwill. As is customary for Seattle Parks and Recreation projects, community members were asked to name the park. A young member of the community proposed the selected name, after Alice Ball.

Honoring the legacy of those who strengthen and heal our communities in the face of adversity is at the heart of why we celebrate Black History Month. The 2022 Black History Month theme is “Black Health and Wellness,” which inspires us to reflect on the incredible work of Alice Augusta Ball, born in Seattle in 1892 and a University of Washington alumna, who discovered a treatment for leprosy that was used for over 20 years. Ball studied chemistry and pharmacy at the University of Washington before moving to the University of Hawaii to pursue a master’s degree in chemistry. In 1915 she became the first woman and first African American to graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and later became the first African American woman professor in the University’s chemistry department. Her leprosy treatment directly impacted over 8,000 individuals diagnosed with the disease and her treatment was used until the 1940s. Read more about the fascinating and inspiring life of Alice Ball here.

In 2021, Alice Ball Park received a WASLA Merit Award for Public Design.

Alice Ball Park is supported by an active neighborhood-based group, Friends of Alice Ball Park, who has provided stewardship for community involvement and volunteer opportunities at the park since its construction.

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