July 6, 2023

District pitches in for better parks, free entertainment


The Greater Southeast Management District contains many of Houston’s premier central parks, anchored by Hermann , MacGregor and Emancipation Parks.

But while urging park users to relax and enjoy, the District takes an active role as a sponsor and partner of those greenspaces as it fosters improved quality of life and economic development within its borders.

The district is a partial funder and partner in the MacGregor Park Master Plan along with the city, the non-profit Houston Parks Board and the MacGregor Park Conservancy.

The park, on the banks of Brays Bayou, was established in the 1920s when the family of Houston businessman Henry F. MacGregor gave the land to the city. There is plenty to do there, from basketball to tennis and disc golf.


Another popular park in the District is Emancipation Park in the historic Third Ward. Emancipation is the oldest public park in Houston.

Purchased by former slaves in 1872 to commemorate the end of slavery and to provide a space for African Americans to convene; has blossomed into a space that continues to connect and inspire community. Along with the Emancipation Park Conservancy, the District was a primary stakeholder with TIRZ 7 to envision transformational improvements to the 10-acre park, including playgrounds, a pool and restoration of the cultural center. The park is home to traveling art exhibits, historic lecture series, performances, and an annual citywide Juneteenth celebration.

At the Park at Palm Center on Griggs Road, a smaller and well-maintained greenspace popular with neighborhood families, the District took over operations and maintenance of the municipal park in late 2020. This park hosts a community garden, an orchard among the walking trail and a sundial for park goers to enjoy.

And more than just aiding in park improvements, Houston Southeast sponsors free performances at Hermann Park’s historic Miller Outdoor Theatre, the only free, open air theater of its kind in the United States.


The District has been sponsoring events at Miller Outdoor Theatre for many years, helping make outstanding performances available free of charge for those who live and work in the area plus those from all across the city and visitors to Houston,” said Miller’s Managing Director Cissy Segall Davis, who is stepping down this year after almost 15 years at the helm. “The visibility they (the District) receive in return helps draw attention to the important work of the district and to businesses throughout the district.”

Miller is celebrating its 100th season of more than 120 free performances that include dance, theater, and music, as well as festivals and outdoor movies. Houstonians flock to the hill at Hermann Park every year for the annual Fourth of July celebration featuring the Houston Symphony and a fantastic display of fireworks.

Overall, the District sees thriving parks as a way to attract more enterprises, residents and visitors to its service area.

“The district is home to amazing greenspaces that are inclusive and complement the evolving quality of life in our city,” said District program manager Nikki Knight. “Our spaces encourage folks to get outdoors, explore, and to experience the arts and entertainment; all while learning about the historic vibrancy of our diverse community.”

— by Marene Gustin