Frankie Pierce Park
The Capitol View neighborhood was planned several years ago as a 32-acre mixed-use district including office space, specialty restaurants and retail, a hotel, almost 400 apartments and a hard-working park called Frankie Pierce Park in honor of Nashville native Frankie Pierce, an early 20th-century suffragette, women’s rights activist and African-American educator.
Frankie Pierce Park is an excellent example of a successful privately-owned public space. Boyle Investment and Northwestern Mutual, the developers, developed and maintain the park even though it is open to everyone. Hawkins Partners designed the 2.15-acres, balancing restoration of the landscape with the design of a high-service, multi-functional space that includes a playground, dog run, volleyball court, seating areas and walking paths.
The design team references history throughout. At the entrances, old steel beams from the Ingram Barge site form gateway arches. Nearby stanchions are crafted from old railroad tracks and relate to the still-active, adjacent train tracks; limestone boulders from downtown’s Gulch are placed on the lawns as seating. Granite cobblestones, originally brought to Nashville as ships’ ballast, shape the playground hillside.
The plantings are a mix of shade and understory trees, shrubs, native grasses, and evergreens to provide winter structure; all are durable, resilient and native and/or non-invasive. Beyond the universally accessible playground, a large dog run is a popular destination at all hours. Central seating is a logical gathering place for picnics, and a sand volleyball court nearby is busy on weekend afternoons.