How did Webb Park get its name?

Cheryl Michelet, communications director for the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission, says Webb Park was named in memory of Baton Rouge Mayor Jesse L. Webb Jr.

Elected to office in 1952, Webb was killed in an airplane crash in Lansing, Michigan, on April 2, 1956. His term was completed by his widow, Mary Estus Jones Webb, Baton Rouge’s first female mayor.

"Prior to BREC receiving ownership of the park, it was called Westdale Country Club, hence the name Country Club Drive that borders the west side and Westdale Drive in the south side," Michelet says.

She also passed along a copy of BREC's June 2018 Historic and Cultural Resources Management Plan, which provides a fascinating history on Webb Park and other parks in the system.

Webb Park's history begins in 1924 with the formation of Westdale Golf Club, which carved a course out of the L.S. West plantation. In those days, the city's first golf course, Baton Rouge Golf and Country Club, founded in 1916, was closed to Jews and African-Americans. The Westdale club had a number of Standard Oil Company executives and Jews among its founders, but it still remained closed to the black community.

Westdale Country Club was dissolved in July 1936 because of financial difficulties during the Great Depression. In fall 1936, LSU purchased the 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts for $25,000.

LSU maintained racial segregation at the golf course for 20 years before offering it to the city of Baton Rouge for $700,000. On March 4, 1957, it was placed under BREC control and was named the Jesse L. Webb Jr. Memorial Park.

Both the Webb Park and City Park golf courses opened to African-American golfers on May 27, 1964, one day after BREC received a federal court order forcing desegregation of the park system. On that day, seven black golfers played the course. The pool, however, was another matter. On April 2, 1966, the pools at Webb Park and Howell Park were bombed during the integration struggle. The pump house at Howell Park was heavily damaged, but only some shrubs were destroyed at Webb Park.

The Webb Park pool was permanently closed in 2012 and was filled in the following year.

Dangerous crosswalk

The crosswalk in front of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is very dangerous for pedestrians. Traffic from every direction poses a genuine threat. Can something be done to make traffic stop when pedestrians need to cross Hennessy?

"Thanks for bringing this back to our attention," says Ingolf Partenheimer, the city-parish's chief traffic engineer. "We will work with Our Lady of the Lake and do a traffic study in an effort to improve the safety of this location for all modes of travel." 


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