Veterans Memorial Park Foundation Of Pensacola

About Us


Veterans Memorial Park is located along Bayfront Parkway on Pensacola Bay, adjacent to Admiral Mason Park. The parks are situated just south of the property that we know today as “Hawkshaw.” However, at one time, the Hawkshaw property extended well beyond those boundaries and toward the Seville area. When the lumber industry boomed in the Pensacola area, Hawkshaw became a rough waterfront where it has been reported that “sailors from every port in the world, town toughs, bullies, and sawmill hands hung out at the social center, a nefarious saloon known as the ‘Bucket O’ Blood.’” Over time, the lumber industry weakened and Hawkshaw changed. Those who stayed there built shacks and filled in the creeks and swampy areas, but the place was riddled with crime. It’s reported that 80-90% of the people who showed up in police court back then were from Hawkshaw, mostly drunks and petty thieves. They began to tear down those shacks in 1939 to make way for Aragon Court, which was built as low-income housing. Then, from 1956 until 1974, the area immediately south of today’s Hawkshaw property held a 2,000-seat baseball stadium, named in honor of World War II hero and two-time Pensacola mayor Vice Admiral Charles P. Mason. The Pensacola Dons played at the park and it was a popular destination, but the odor from the nearby 9th Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant caused some to call it “Stinko Stadium.” The Dons were dissolved in 1964 and the park was used by teenage city baseball leagues until it was declared unsafe and was condemned in 1974 because it had become “only a paint-chipped wall, rusted fences and a weed-infested diamond.”

Then, in 1989, the Vietnam Veterans of Northwest Florida, inspired by the visit to the city by a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC—The Moving Wall—told the City of Pensacola that it wanted to erect a permanent half size replica of the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial here in Pensacola. So, after spending 5 years raising funds and getting some help from the legislature, and since there were no plans for the decrepit Admiral Mason Park, the City carved out 5-1/2 acres of that property to establish the Veterans Memorial Park, but when I say that Veterans Memorial Park was carved out of Admiral Mason Park, what it was actually carved out of was a swampy and overgrown mess. The Wall South became the first permanent replica of the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial when it was unveiled on October 24, 1992.

Today, people come to the Wall from all over to pray and reflect, some lay flowers and mementos, some make rubbings of the names of family members, friends, and comrades like they do at the Wall in Washington, DC, and groups lay wreaths at the Wall on Memorial Day. This past Veterans Day week, which marked the 30th anniversary of the Wall and Veterans Memorial Park, visitors filed into the Park to read the more than 58,000 names etched on the Wall. Nine years later, a debate began over whether to use the property west of Veterans Memorial Park as a retention pond or a soccer field, or both, but that issue wasn't settled for another decade when the City finally decided to create a retention pond on the site. By then, Veterans Memorial Park had been established for 20 years, so when the Admiral Mason Park retention pond was designed, it was landscaped to emulate and, as Mayor Ashton Hayward said at the time, "complement Veterans Memorial Park and the waterfront." [CLICK] When people refer to the "vista" from the north toward the Bay, there isn't much argument that the existence of Veterans Memorial Park made the vista the pride of Pensacola, "The Jewel on the Bay." For the past 10 years, the Park has been maintained under the stewardship of the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, an independent Florida non-profit corporation, under a license agreement with the City of Pensacola, which owns the park. The Foundation is led by a 10-member board of directors, all volunteers who receive no pay for their work. Our Board of Directors is a mix of past and present business owners and executives, an operations manager, two retired airline captains, five retired senior military commissioned and non-commissioned officers, a former submarine captain, a former NAS Pensacola base commander, a former squadron commander, and nine veterans, seven of whom are war veterans.

In the decade of Veterans Memorial Park Foundation’s stewardship over the park, it has transformed the park into a well-groomed, clean, popular destination, and easily Pensacola’s most photogenic public park, thanks to the contributions of so many people, both in terms of financial donations and volunteer time.

Veterans Memorial Park is owned and controlled by the City of Pensacola. The Veterans Memorial Park Foundation of Pensacola, Inc., a registered 501(c)3 organization, providing stewardship of the Park through an agreement with the City of Pensacola. The Foundation is governed by an uncompensated volunteer Board of Directors. As stewards of the Park, the Board sees to the care and maintenance of the park utilizing funding gathered exclusively through grants and donations.

The Veterans Memorial Park continues to depend on the donations of those who love and support it, and who revere the memory of those honored there. Contributions can be made electronically by clicking Here or with checks made out to Veterans Memorial Park Foundation of Pensacola and mailed to:

PO Box 12984

Pensacola, FL 32591-2984

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Just want to tell us how great your visit was? get in touch with us here!




On the Downtown Pensacola Bayfront Shoreline.

Pensacola, FL, USA

200 S. 10th Ave

Pensacola, FL, 32502