144 Acres Donated to T.O. Fuller State Park

Friday, September 17, 2021 | 12:12pm

Tennessee State Parks officials today announced the addition of 144 acres to T.O. Fuller State Park, a donation to the park by philanthropists Hugh and Margaret Jones Fraser and the Carrington Jones family of Memphis.

“We are fortunate to have such wonderful conservationists as Hugh and Margaret Jones Fraser and the Carrington Jones family, and we want to thank them for this generous gift to our state parks,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said. “T.O. Fuller State Park holds a special place in the history of our parks and is the only state park in Memphis. This will be a great addition.”      

Carrington Jones and his son, William Carrington Jones, who died in 2018, owned, farmed and developed land near the park. Margaret Jones Fraser and her brother, Mason Jones, visited the park as children and developed a love of the outdoors. The family wants to give back to the community and is donating various parcels of land. The donation is a chance to expand and protect a community asset while providing educational and recreational opportunities.

Non-profit partners The Land Trust for Tennessee and Wolf River Conservancy assisted in the process.

“In the summer of 2018, Hugh asked me to help think through how we might fit these land puzzle pieces together with conservation for the community as the goal,” Liz McLaurin, president and CEO of The Land Trust for Tennessee, said. “Projects like this are all about timing, the right combination of people, partners and a common vision. Three years later, it is so heartening to see it all coming together – goal achieved.”

“Wolf River Conservancy is proud to have worked with such good people on an important project for Memphis and the state parks system,” Ryan Hall, director of Land Conservation for the Wolf River Conservancy, said. 

T.O. Fuller State Park includes eight miles of trails, with four miles for hiking and four miles for multi-use. The park has four shelters, 35 picnic tables, and basketball courts. The state-of-the-art T.O. Fuller Interpretive Center is located within the park’s Wildlife Enhancement Area. The park contains diverse landscapes with over 200 total plant species identified.

T.O. Fuller State Park, established in 1938, was the first state park east of the Mississippi River to be open to African Americans and only the second in the nation. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and the name was changed in 1942 to T.O. Fuller State Park in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author. Fuller spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. He served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to Lemoyne-Owen College, for 27 years.