TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After a two-year-long application process, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden has been officially recognized as a “national treasure” in the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the country’s historic buildings, districts, sites, structures, and objects worthy of preservation.
“It’s one of our largest tourist attractions here at the City of Tyler. We wanted to look at the opportunity to take it to the next level through national recognition,” said Stephanie Franklin, managing director for the City of Tyler. “We started talking with a consultant to do that.”
The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden joins other Smith County landmarks, such as the Azalea Residential Historic District, the Blackstone Building, Carnegie Public Library, Cotton Belt Building, and others.
“We went through hundreds of pages in the application to actually get this listing, so it’s a very exciting and very premier designation for such a facility in the state of Texas,” Franklin added.
The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is an 11.7-acre historic district and designed landscape located on the East Texas State Fairgrounds, one mile west of downtown Tyler. The historic rose garden features thousands of rose bushes arranged as a formal landscape with lawns, concrete walkways, fountains, walls, and water features.
Below is the Texas Historical Commission’s description of the rose garden:
Designed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) park project in 1938, the garden was nearing completion in the fall of 1941 when United States entered World War II and nonessential domestic construction stopped for the duration of the war. Nearly ten years passed before work resumed on the garden, and it finally opened to an appreciative public in June 1952. The garden was expanded and further developed through the 1950s and 1960s. As its roses and fame increased, the municipal rose garden grew to be the region’s largest tourist attraction, drawing thousands of rose enthusiasts and commercial buyers to Tyler and the East Texas rose district. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A in the area of Entertainment/Recreation at the state level of significance for its role in regional and state tourism. It was also listed under Criterion C in the area of Landscape Architecture at the state level, as a good, increasingly rare example of a major garden type – formal rose gardens for public enjoyment - built in cities across America and Texas in the mid-20th century.
“It’s what we’re known for as a city... the city has a natural beauty,” Franklin said. “So, the excitement that we can finally say we’ve always been nationally recognized, but this is an official designation from a national parks service.”
The City of Tyler said the Tyler Rose Garden is one of the few outdoor spaces in the nation to receive this honor.
The City of Tyler and representatives of the State of Texas will celebrate the historic achievement on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Tyler Rose Garden.