After more than four years of careful restoration work, Springfield-Greene County Park Board and the Friends of Timmons Temple held the grand opening of Timmons Hall Saturday, June 29 in Silver Springs Park, 1100 N. Hampton.
Timmons Hall, formerly known as Timmons Temple, will serve as an event facility offering historical, cultural and educational opportunities, owned and operated by the Park Board, and under the direction of Christine Peoples, the newly named coordinator of Timmons Hall.
“I’m excited because I know this place is going to bring the community together,” said Peoples. “It’s going to take you back in time, and forward as well. And it will benefit the next generation. It’s just going to be epic.”
One of the venue’s first events was planned for just after the grand opening, a digital presentation of a current art exhibition at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The exhibition, 30 Americans, features American experiences as presented through 30 contemporary African-American artists, spanning four decades.
The grand opening was followed by a Juneteenth celebration noon-4 p.m. in Silver Springs Park, coordinated by NAACP Springfield.
Timmons Temple Church of God in Christ was built in 1932 at the corner of Webster Street and Texas Avenue, overlooking Silver Springs Park. The small church served Springfield’s African-American community for more than 80 years before the congregation outgrew the building and relocated in 2014. Timmons Temple was sold and slated for demolition. Nonprofit group Save Timmons Temple (now Friends of Timmons Temple) formed to preserve the church, noting its historic significance as well as its unique stone exterior, including sunburst patterns also found in retaining walls in Silver Springs Park. In early 2015, in coordination with the Park Board, Timmons Temple was carefully lifted from its foundation and relocated by about 600 feet into Silver Springs Park. Private fundraising efforts continued to redevelop the landmark.
Silver Springs is a fitting location for the historic church. It’s one of Springfield’s 10 Historic Parks, established in Springfield in 1918 on land known as the old Fairbanks pasture. It was later named for a spring on site, a tributary of Jordan Creek. During segregation, Silver Springs was the city’s only public park designated for black residents and sports leagues, including visiting baseball teams. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration lined the creek channel with rock, installed the fieldstone retaining walls and built the first Silver Springs Pool.
It’s been the site of picnics and gatherings for decades, including the Park Day, established in 1952 when Gerald Brooks, a parks supervisor and a teacher at Springfield’s former Lincoln School, and Robert Wendell Duncan, also a park supervisor, started a day of games and sports events for young African-American residents at Silver Springs. Today the Park Day Reunion takes place the first weekend in August, including a parade, picnic, sports competitions, swimming, beauty pageant, banquet and gospel singing.
The Jordan Creek Greenway connected Silver Springs Park to Smith Park in 2003. Silver Springs Pool was renovated in 2010. In 2018, the year of the park’s centennial, Silver Springs became the first location marked on the new Springfield-Greene County African American Heritage Trail.
Even before the grand opening, Timmons Hall served as the unofficial meeting place for the Midtown Neighborhood Association, an arrangement planned to continue under Park Board management. If you’re interested in hosting a meeting or event at Timmons Hall, contact Christine Peoples at 417-864-1046.