I found myself in the rare situation of being early for church the other Sunday. With nearly thirty minutes to spare, I headed to the nearby coffee shop. En route, I happened to see the sign for Fred Fletcher Park.
I’ve probably passed the park a dozen times, but I only noticed it that day because of my quest to visit as many Raleigh City Parks as possible this Spring and Summer. (I am a bit clueless, but I must state the obvious: the sign is just a tad-bit concealed.)
With hazelnut frappuccino in hand–and more than fifteen minutes on my hands–I decided to take a peek at the park, which was purchased by the city in 1982 and is the former site of the Methodist Home for Children.
The park is named after Fred Fletcher, (1910-2000), who was a Raleigh native, a radio broadcaster, the Vice-President and General Manager of WRAL-TV, and President of the Capital Broadcasting Company until his retirement in 1975. Fletcher’s early professional roots in the YMCA (in Chicago) no doubt sparked his more than 50 years of involvement on commissions and as a chair for the Parks and Recreation in Raleigh and Wake County.
I entered the 21-acre park from Glenwood Avenue, (there is also an entrance off of St. Mary’s Street), and was greeted by the rather abstract sculpture entitled Redbird, created by Harry McDaniel. (You can read more about this “puzzling” work of art at the sculptor’s website. There is more to the sculpture than meets the eye! Here’s a hint: Although it looks like a bouquet of bright red flowers, all the pieces actually come together to form a cardinal, North Carolina’s state bird.)
I passed by an athletic field, which was already filling with spectators and children kicking soccer balls. I was somewhat surprised by the buzz of activity, particularly at this 8AM hour, but it occurred to me that the park must be well used, well liked, and somewhat safe. Thus encouraged, I parked in a (free) lot just beyond the ball field. The lot led to the park’s amphitheater.
After meandering the walkways of the amphitheater, I followed a path from there to the two-story, historic Borden Building, (circa 1900). Peering through the windows, I spotted antique furniture and wall hangings. I later discovered, (thanks to the trusty internet), that some of the pictures in the house are of Fred Fletcher, as well as some of the children who lived at the Methodist Children’s Home.
The Borden Building, grounds, and amphitheater can be rented for special events, such as weddings, parties, and conferences.
Fifteen minutes flew by and it was time to head to church—or else I would now be late!
Hopefully, I will have more moments to spare, because what I didn’t see at Fletcher Park are perhaps some of the more intriguing aspects: a water garden (with four deep pools!) and a wetland boasting butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, ducks, and other animal species.