(Previously known as: Smith Park, Park Square, and Baptist Hill)
The beating heart of Lowertown, Mears Park is bounded by 5th, 6th, Sibley and Wacouta streets. Originally the home of the First Baptist congregation, who built their church on top of a hill in the middle of a city block. In 1849 the land was donated to the city by a man named Robert Smith after the church expanded to a new location a few blocks north. The hill was leveled and the square was formally created in 1888.
For most of the next century, the park was a traditional city square with a central fountain and sidewalks radiating about it. In the early 1970s, the park became known as the “Brickyard” after a renovation covered much of the square in bricks. After his death in 1974, the park was officially renamed after Norman Mears, a St. Paul inventor in the printing and etching field; his inventions were used to fight World War II and make color televisions. After retirement, Mears had set his sights on the revitalization of Lowertown.
Modern-day Mears Park was opened in 1992 following a major reconstruction designed by landscape architect Don Ganje and artist Brad Goldberg. The new design received rave reviews for brilliantly mixing natural and manmade elements, from the rocky stream to the metal bandshell, and has proven popular year after year. Today the park sits in the middle of a re-energized Lowertown, hosting handfuls of fairs and festivals throughout the season.