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HOME GR/OWN's award-winning Ezekiel Gillespie Park

Located at 14th & Wright in Milwaukee's Lindsay Heights Neighborhood

Honoring the great Wisconsin African American historical figure, Ezekiel Gillespie.

Ezekiel Gillespie was a Milwaukee freedman, shopkeeper and a founder of St. Mark's A.M.E Church. Gillespie is most known for suing the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the 1860's for the right to vote... and won, giving African American men the right to vote in Wisconsin for the first time.

Mayor Tom Barrett's HOME GR/OWN Initiative, Walnut Way and the Walnut Way Housing Committee chose this site to build a new sustainable park. The site formerly consisted of 2 vacant lots and a vacant home, torn down prior to construction. The park was designed & constructed by HOME GR/OWN, UWM's Community Design Solutions, Simon Landscaping, the Energy Exchange & Walnut Way's Blue Skies Landscaping, employing residents from the neighborhood. Ezekiel Gillespie Park may be Milwaukee's most sustainable park!

Construction: July & August, 2014
Grand Opening: September, 2014

Sustainable and Green Features of the park: 

  • Porous Pavers, collecting precipitation that falls on the site
  • A 1,000 gallon cistern, holding rainwater for use on-site
  • A rain garden that serves as an overflow detention area for the cistern 
  • 15 apple and pear trees, raspberries and serviceberries for picking by the neighborhood
  • 100's of native perennials that will serve as a plant nursey for future HOME GR/OWN vacant lot projectsRecent 2017 Gillespie Park photos





Before construction


After construction

Gillespie Park wins 2015 LISC MANDI Award for "Best Public Space", a Mayor's Design Award and SXSW ECO 2015 Places By Design Competition!

On April 15, 2015, HOME GR/OWN's Gillespie Park was announced as the winner of the Brewer's Community Foundation's Public Space Award!. Read more about Gillespie Park winning the MANDI! We especially thank our major Gillespie Park partners: Simon Landscaping, Energy Exchange, Walnut Way, Blue Skies Landscaping, Walnut Way Housing Committee, Zilber Family Foundation, UWM Community Design Solutions, McKay Nursery, Mark McCollow and City of Milwaukee DPW, DCD, NIDC and CBGA. We salute the two other MANDI Finalist projects, the ARTery and the Holton Swing Park, as wonderful, recent examples of creative placemaking in Milwaukee.

On May 20, 2015, it was announced that Gillespie Park received a 2015 Mayor's Design Award!

On October 6, 2015 HOME GR/OWN and our design partners for Gillespie Park and the 2015 Partners for Places initiative won the SXSW ECO's international Places By Design competition in the Urban Strategies category, based on our projects' collaborative nature, innovative use of landscape design and placemaking integration. A special thanks to Gillespie's design team: Tim McCollow of HOME GR/OWN, Carolyn Esswein of UWM CDS, Bryan Simon of Simon Landscaping/Energy Exchange and Jeremy Davis of Walnut Way's Blue Skies Landscaping.

Plan a visit: Gillespie Park is located on the southeast corner at the intersection of N. 14th St. and W. Wright St.

See Gillespie Park from the sky!

Watch a drone video of the 2015 MANDI winner park




How You Can Help!

Funds donated to HOME GR/OWN will be used to support City-owned vacant lot projects which coincide with the following HOME GR/OWN objectives:

  • Increase access to local, healthy food
  • Revitalizing/engaging communities
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