In the winter of 1918, a devastating influenza pandemic had the entire globe in its grip and Oklahoma City was not immune. Thousands of people were ill as everyday life ground to halt. City leaders turned to Dr. J. T. Martin of the OU Medical College for help. As City Physician he immediately set about improving health conditions in the city and coordinated recovery efforts with organizations like the American Red Cross. It took several months for the crisis to pass, but Dr. Martin was long remembered for his strength and calmness during the pandemic.
As a small boy, Joseph Thomas Martin came to the city during the Land Run of 1889 with his family, including his younger brother J. Frank Martin who was Oklahoma City mayor in the 1930s. After medical school he served on the faculty at OU Medical College for 37 years and in his retirement, he served 20 years on the city park board.
The land for this park was originally a Land Run homestead. The city acquired most of the land in 1963 and named it Dr. J. T. Martin Nature Park. The property was an excellent site for learning about our city’s natural habitat because it has two creeks, a forest grove, and a grassy plain. For many years the park was left in its natural state but in the mid-1970s the parks department began molding the park we see today when the nature center was built. In 1974, a house and small piece of land on the north side of the park was purchased, making Martin Nature Park the only city park with a home on the grounds. Martin also became the only city park with a National Recreational Trail when the Red Stick Trail was created in 1975.