Buford M. Watson, Jr. Park

727 Kentucky St.

Named in honor of the late Buford M. Watson Jr., Lawrence City Manager from 1970-1989, this park was originally known as Central Park. Incidentally, Central Park was part of the original town site when Lawrence was founded.

Watson Park serves as a “gateway” for visitors to the City of Lawrence from the north, west and eastern proximity of Downtown Lawrence. The renaming of Watson Park was dedicated on March 27, 1990.

The seven-acre park, located in the Old West Lawrence neighborhood adjacent to downtown Lawrence, is one of the most popular destinations for Lawrence citizens to visit. Watson Park is home to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, along with an original train locomotive, playground equipment, and basketball court.

In addition, there is a picnic area along with a gazebo that allows visitors to relax and enjoy the scenic park. Throughout the summer months, Watson Park is a popular gathering place for families and friends to enjoy the open space in this highly visible two-block park, which is separated by 7th Street.

One of the most popular attractions of Watson Park is locomotive #1073. Built in 1902, it was used in freight service in the Lawrence area from 1908-1952. The 2-6-2 Prairie type locomotive traveled more than 870,000 miles and originally cost a little more than $20,000. The locomotive is located on the northeast section of the park; many children refer to this park as “train park” because of the locomotive.

Watson Park also is home to the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center, which was renovated in 1995. In October 2003, a bronze bust was unveiled in honor of the park’s namesake, Buford M. Watson Jr. The artist was Tom Wilkerson, former assistant director of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department.

The amenities of the park include:

There is 1 gazebo located in Watson Park.
The amenities of the gazebo include:

  • Electricity
  • Drinking Fountain
  • Barbecue Grill
  • Tables and Benches

If you are looking to reserve an outdoor shelters and/or indoor facility, reservations are taken at any of the community recreation centers including the Community Building, 115 West 11th St.; East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 East 15th St.; Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 West 27th St.; Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, 4706 Overland Drive; or Sports Pavilion Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane. For questions or more information on Special Use Permits, please call the Administrative Office at (785) 832-3450 or email parksrec@lawrenceks.org.

See our shelter rentals page for more information on renting these facilities or call (785) 832-7920.