Children’s Memory Garden

About This Project

The Children’s Memory Garden in Centennial Park holds a poignant history and a heartfelt dedication to the memory of Nashville’s children lost to violence. Ron Smith’s compassionate response to a tragic event led to the creation of this memorial space, originally designed in 1996.


Over the years, the garden became a place to honor not only the three children affected by the mid-90s shooting but also numerous others who fell victim to violence. By 2019, the memorial bore the weight of 234 names, reflecting the unfortunate toll of such incidents.


However, despite its noble purpose, the garden faced challenges such as public neglect and damage from flooding. To address these issues, various organizations came together to breathe new life into this significant space. The collaborative efforts involved You Have the Power, the Children’s Memory Garden Committee of Nashville, the Metro Parks Department, Centennial Park Conservancy, the office of the District Attorney General, Metro Nashville Police Department, and the Nashville Public Library.


Dowdle partnered with these organizations to carry out the revitalization project. Under the guidance of Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architects, the garden underwent a redesign that incorporated preserved stonework from the original layout. The revitalized space now features updated landscaping, new granite benches, in-ground lighting, and a stone memorial wall bearing the names of the victims.


Efforts were made to improve accessibility, making the garden wheelchair-friendly with the installation of new concrete pathways. This transformation not only preserves the memory of the lost children but also ensures that the Children’s Memory Garden remains a dignified and welcoming place for reflection and remembrance within Centennial Park.