History

What once was a movement,

is now a world-class park, Moncus Park. 

See how it all began below.

THE HISTORY OF MONCUS PARK

Moncus Park is proof that a community can accomplish incredible things when they join together around a common cause.   

This beautiful property has a lot of history in the region, due to being on high ground in Lafayette Parish, with access to nearby coulees and the Vermilion River. Historical evidence dates back to at least the Attakapas-Ishak Indians and later to some of the first Acadian settlers.  When the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL) purchased it in 1920 for agricultural research, it was out of town.  Lafayette continued to grow around it and housed cows, then horses, earning it the nickname, “the Horse Farm.” 

In 2005, UL announced plans to allow for commercial development at the farm. In response, two UL seniors, Danica Adams and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks (who would later become one of the park’s first executive directors), launched the “Save the Horse Farm” campaign to instead preserve the property as a central park for everyone in our community.  After nearly seven years of campaigning, the effort came to fruition.  In 2012, UL President Dr. Joseph Savoie sold the land to the City of Lafayette under the leadership of Mayor-President Joey Durel, who also championed this idea of a new park.  With the support of thousands of advocates, the property, at last, had been “saved.”   

Non-profit park conservancies are a growing trend across the country, and Lafayette Central Park, Inc., was formed in 2013 to build and operate a world-class park. A grant from the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority (LPTFA) funded an award-winning community engagement effort that pulled together over 7,400 opinions from Acadiana residents through public meetings and online surveys. The City-Parish Council unanimously approved the master plan and programming concepts our community crafted.   

With the park’s master plan in place, fundraising could begin.  One of the first donors approached was Mr. James “Jim” Devin Moncus, who saw the regional impact of the park, and donated the lead gift to allow for construction to begin.  Since that time, thousands of community leaders, foundations, businesses, residents, and tourists have donated money, resources, and time to bringing the vision of Moncus Park to life.  The board of directors and staff of Moncus Park thanks you for being here as a part of that vision, and for enjoying this beautiful park that continues to embody the generosity, dedication, and vision of so many.   

1903

The Schoeffler family ancestors move to Louisiana and establish a farm.

1920-1990s

UL, then Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, bought the whole parcel of land in three sections, a total of 125 acres. For decades, University presidents and other officials lived on the working farm. The farm was plowed with mules until modern times and was used as the school's dairy farm for years. After the farm's cattle were relocated to St. Martin Parish, the land was used as the University equestrian center and earned the nickname "the Horse Farm."

October 2005

Under the threat of commercial development, two young women, Danica Adams and Elizabeth "EB" Brooks, launched a community-wide campaign to inspire civic leaders and residents to help "Save the Horse Farm."

May 2009

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Community Foundation of Acadiana, and Lafayette Consolidated Government announce their collaborative effort to dedicate nearly 100 acres of university property on Johnston Street, known as The Horse Farm for the development of a passive public park, preserving its natural beauty for use as walking trails, bike paths, gardens, green space and uses other than organized sports areas.

April 7, 2011

In keeping with the vision advanced by the Save the Horse Farm organization, the Lafayette Consolidated Government City Council voted on April 7, 2011, to secure the $6 million in public funding for the purchase of the Horse Farm from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL).

July 31, 2012

The Horse Farm property is purchased from University of Louisiana Lafayette by Lafayette Consolidated Government for $6,800,000 to create a world-class public park.

July 18, 2013

The Horse Farm property is leased to Lafayette Central Park, Inc. (LCP), known today as Moncus Park, a new nonprofit created to plan, design, build and operate the Park.

August 29, 2013

The LPTFA (Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority) committed 2.6 million in seed funding to support the community engagement efforts necessary to determine the programing in the park, the fundraising campaign, and hire a design firm to create the master plan for the park.

October-December, 2013

The Lafayette community gathers to consider park programming opportunities on the property, ranging from goal setting and initial ideas of soft programming, such as events and festivals, to hard programming, which are built objects upon the landscape, such as trails, an amphitheater and restrooms. Over a nine month time period, over 7,400 opinions were registered with regards to residents’ ideas, alternatives, and concerns about the future park environment.

April - May, 2014

Presentation of the Master Plan and Prioritization to Lafayette City-Parish Council. 

June 3, 2014

Lafayette City-Parish Council votes unanimously to support the master plan  - a true testament to the community-wide support for the planning process and the resulting product.

May 14, 2016

Lafayette Central Park (LCP) names central park Moncus Park, in honor of the major donation made by philanthropist James "Jim" Moncus.

March 9, 2018

Lease recorded at Lafayette Parish Courthouse and enacted at City Council.  

March 27, 2018

Construction begins on Phase 1 of Moncus Park. 

March 19, 2021

Construction begins on Phase 2 of Moncus Park. 

January 1, 2022

Moncus Park opens to the public.

May, 2022

The First Horizon Amphitheater opens with Moncus Park's signature "An Evening Under the Oaks" gala and celebration.

June 9, 2022

The Ochsner Lafayette General playground opens! The Ochsner Lafayette General inclusive playground features nature-inspired structures and interactive pieces, all surrounded by a custom rubber groundcover that mimics features of a swampy landscape. The playground includes separate areas for younger and older children, as well as a swing set. Inclusivity and accessibility make this creative and dynamic playground able to be enjoyed by everyone in the family. Many other donors within the community have also supported the inclusive playground, Our Savior’s Church, the George Crain Memorial Fund, and Lafayette Family Eye Care.

June 11, 2022

Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center Interactive Water Adventure opens! The Our Lady of Lourdes 5,100 square foot interactive water feature is centered around a large alligator sculpture staring back at a pirogue play structure. The alligator has “breathing” water arches for its abdomen, and children in the pirogue are so frightened by the alligator stalking them that the boat is shaking, creating “waves” made with custom jets, even though this feature has no standing water. Throughout the large wet deck, another set of custom jets shoot up water that mimic bald cypress “knees.” The interactive water feature has been designed by Fluidity Design Consultants, a global leader in water feature design out of Los Angeles that was founded by Jim Garland, a UL Lafayette architecture graduate

August 25, 2022

The Savoy Family Treehouse opens to the public. The Savoy Family Treehouse at Moncus Park was designed by Pete Nelson, of Nelson Treehouse and Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. The Treehouse will be two stories and ADA accessible with a 450 sq ft main deck with a second story lookout. The Treehouse is made of reclaimed red cypress. It is lined with cargo net for safe climbing. The treehouse also features a 225’ ADA boardwalk ramp with an overlook deck.

September 6, 2022

The Veterans Memorial opens to commemorate U.S. Armed Forces opens with a 21-gun salute and remarks from Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor President Josh Guillory. The Veterans Memorial at Moncus Park is a lasting symbol of the courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and honor of all who have served. The memorial space features a flag court, flanked by large tablets that commemorate American military participation in key conflicts throughout history. The Memorial also features inscriptions in brick pavers and seat walls that have been sponsored by local Veterans and their loved ones in honor of their service.

September 17, 2022

Moncus Park hosts its first community at the First Horizon Amphitheater with Rusty Metyoer and the Zydeco Krush and world-renowned Pine Leaf Boys.

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