This one-acre park was donated to the city by John James Culbertson in 1919 when the Oklahoma Railway Co. created the Culbertson Line which extended from downtown to the eastern part of the city along NE 13th. Culbertson lived in Paris, Texas where he made a great fortune in converting cotton seed into oil. After the Land Run of 1889, Culbertson began investing in large farms in this area of the city which he later converted into housing developments like Lincoln Terrace. Even though he never lived in Oklahoma City, three of his children made their homes here and he was actively involved in the success of the city. He built the city’s first five-story building with an elevator in Downtown, he donated to charities, and he donated land, including this park and half of the land for the state capitol.
Culbertson Park is one of a handful of triangular parks created by the path of streetcar tracks cutting diagonally through a city block. The park was considered a greenspace and received the attention of flower clubs and the Art League for beautification. In 1930, Mr. Culbertson donated a sculpture titled “Mother and Daughter” which remained in the park until 1955 when it was moved to the rose garden at Will Rogers Park. It is one of the oldest pieces of public art in the city.
Abiding by the laws of geometry, there were two triangles created when the Culbertson line ran through the square city block. It’s long been forgotten, but there was once a twin of Culbertson Park in the triangle on the east side of the streetcar tracks called Will Clark Park. These twins could not have been more different, though. Culbertson Park had a reflecting pool and beautiful flowers and a sculpture while Clark Park had a swimming pool, a drama program and amphitheater, swings and a boxing ring. This park was named in honor of Will Clark who was the first superintendent of parks from 1907-1915. Clark selected the route of Grand Boulevard and the locations of the four major anchor parks that are at the heart of the city’s parks system.