The City of Lenoir will be making some renovations to the T.H. Broyhill Walking Park this year thanks to a generous donation from the Broyhill Family Foundation.
The Broyhill Family Foundation donated $100,000 to replace the wood on the observation deck on the north end of the park and to convert the park restrooms into three, single-unit restrooms, similar to the units at J.E. Broyhill Park. Known as the Walking Park to locals, T.H. Broyhill Walking Park is located at 945 Lakewood Cir SW, Lenoir, NC 28645. The park covers 20 acres and features a paved walking loop, a pond, a nature sanctuary, and botanical gardens. Paul Broyhill built the park and it was completed in 1992.
The Walking Park is located in an old rock quarry. During the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps garnered stone from the quarry, which left a small lake. The Corps used some of the stone to build two sets of stairs on the property. After World War II, Tom Broyhill, co-founder of Broyhill Industries, donated the land to the City for a municipal swimming pool. The lake was still on the property, and the pool was located in the grassy area just north of the current park restrooms. After the City opened the Lenoir Aquatic and Fitness Center, the City closed the old pool.
Mayor Joe Gibbons and Parks and Recreation Director Kenny Story remember fishing in the lake and swimming in the old city pool when they were younger.
"We use to go over there and swim all the time," Story said. "I was in junior high school. The pool house was about where the restrooms are now. The driveway went to the right and around to the pool house. That was where we went into the pool."
Mayor Gibbons said he has fond memories of the lake and pool.
"I remember fishing in the old lake before the park was built. It was one of my favorite places to go growing up," Mayor Gibbons said. "When I worked at the country club, the club and the city pool would share lifeguards."
Sheila Triplett-Brady, Executive Director of the Broyhill Family Foundation, said that Paul Broyhill came up with the idea for the gardens after visiting the Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island in Canada. The Butchart Gardens were built in an old limestone quarry on the island.
"With the help of furniture designer Bill Early and landscape architect Harry Yates, Paul fashioned an oriental-themed park that people from all over could enjoy," Triplett-Brady said. "Incorporating lighting, waterfalls, flowers, evergreens, and seasonal shrubs, he enhanced the natural beauty of the rock formations [in the quarry]."
The Broyhills built the park and the City and the Broyhill Family Foundation have partnered to maintain the park. Mr. Paul Broyhill named the park "T.H. Broyhill Walking Park" after his uncle, Tom Broyhill. The Broyhill Family Foundation provides funds for upkeep and repairs including mulch and plants. The City provides the staff who manage the gardens and the property.
"To me, it's one of the best parks in the State of North Carolina," Story said. "It's beautiful. It's unique. People love it and use it every day."
Story said out of towners call all the time asking for directions to the park. High schoolers have taken thousands and thousands of prom pictures in front of the trees and flowers at the park. Some people even have their wedding ceremonies in the park (standing only, no chairs or food allowed).
Triplett-Brady said the park will always be a priority for the Broyhill Family Foundation.
"We here at the foundation will always have a heart for the park that has been dear to Mr. Broyhill," Triplett-Brady said. "I love seeing the park overflow with girls in beautiful dresses, guys in tuxedos, and parents snapping pictures during prom time."
Mayor Gibbons said the park has been a great asset for the City, and he appreciates the partnership with the Broyhill Family Foundation to maintain and renovate the park.
"The Broyhill Walking Park is a beautiful place and a gem in the City of Lenoir," Mayor Gibbons said. "Local residents love to walk there, and people come from all over to visit and enjoy the gardens. I want to thank the Broyhill Family Foundation for this generous donation as well as for their donations throughout the years to the park."
The restrooms at the south end of the park will be renovated into three, separate single-stall units.
Parks and Recreation Department staff will replace all the flooring on the observation deck.
People use the Walking Park every day.
The section of the park is off the main loop on the east side of the park.
The dedication plaque for the park is located just north of the gardens.
The granite rock faces surround the gardens at the park.