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Central Park marks Garland’s first purchase of recreational space and the beginning of its Park and Recreation System.

The park occupies a heavily wooded part of the 640-acre G. W. "Wash" Routh homestead settled in Garland’s predecessor township of old Duck Creek in 1854. It lies near the site of that community’s first public structure, a multi-use school, church and meeting hall whose functions were central to local life from the 1840’s.

Later, the property was acquired by D. Cecil and Ora Tucker Williams, who established the privately owned and operated Williams Park here. Their facilities included a swimming "hole," bathhouse and concession stands as well as picnic and playground space. Dams placed across Duck Creek at the park site beginning in 1926 impounded the water for swimming in what was called Lake Garland. The Williams Park operation closed after its 1939 season, and the family removed the dam that had raised the creek water level all the way back to Forest Lane. Nevertheless, public access for picnics was preserved through a road along the creek bank, and for several seasons ground there was leased for a miniature golf course.

Following World War II the Garland Junior Chamber of Commerce, better known as the Jaycees, proposed several site options and spearheaded efforts to provide a public park for the city. The park proposal appeared on the ballot for Garland’s 1947 bond election in which all issues carried except one for a municipal airport. Through their annual Jaycee Jubilee celebrations, the Jaycees donated funds for Central Park improvements, including an army surplus barracks building that once served as a community center.

The City of Garland acquired this 50-acre parcel from the Williamses on January 10, 1948, for $27,000 and 157 acres of city land previously earmarked as the municipal airport site. Mayor Ray Olinger and City Secretary Jim Stultz signed the agreement for the city. Mr. Williams, son of Garland’s first mayor Marion Davis Williams, was a former president of the Garland school board and succeeded Mr. Olinger as Garland’s mayor the following spring.

The Garland ISD later acquired the 157 acres of traded land from the Williamses for one-half of its appraised price at the time, eventually building Williams Stadium as well as administrative and operational facilities at that site.