Learn More About Pendleton King Park
Pendleton King Park, a 64 acre park, donated and designated as a bird sanctuary by the King Family, was developed by the City of Augusta and volunteers in the early 1970s. Leased by the city for $1 a year, the park flourished during the 1970s into the early 1980s, but eventually with dwindling maintenance and a perceived feeling from the community that it was an “unsafe” place, the park deteriorated and had little support.
In the early 90s volunteer groups recognized the potential of the park and initiated a series of events which turned it around. The first Disc Golf Course in Augusta was established by a group of volunteers and brought with it young golf players. The Master Gardeners of Augusta held their first annual Plant Swap and Sale and more Augustans came to the park and saw its potential. Master Gardeners and other volunteers developed a new Hydrangea Garden. They obtained funding and did the majority of the hard work clearing the land, planting the hydrangeas, and building garden structures. The Hydrangeas at Pendleton Garden opened in 2005 with a very successful hydrangea conference attended by over 100 CSRA garden enthusiasts. Since that time, the Hydrangea Garden volunteers have faithfully maintained the garden and held events. It is now used for weddings, receptions and educational programs. Story Time at Pendleton featuring volunteer readers is held each year by our public library. Volunteers also hold the yearly Hydrangeas Galore Sale with all proceeds used for more improvements to the park such as the very popular PKP Bark Park where dogs are allowed to play off leash. Annual Arbor Day events include a 5K Run, art activities and tree giveaways.
The Junior League of Augusta took notice of the increased volunteer activity and funded and built two new playgrounds. Artists funded by The Art Factory worked with fourth and fifth graders at Monte Sano Elementary to design and build a sculpture garden and an outdoor musical instrument platform near the new playground which provides lovely sounds throughout the park. Volunteers restructured the Disc Golf Course so it now extends into the wooded areas of the park with each hole named for a different bird. Bluebird houses were built throughout the park. Tree benches and a kiosk were added to the Bark Park. The old chain-link fence around Lake Elizabeth and the worn out unsafe playground equipment were removed. An information kiosk was built by a volunteer providing the fascinating history of the King family, PKP features and park events. A Wetlands overlook deck was constructed The army tank, a favorite of three generations was restored and painted. The carriage house was repaired and painted, the wrought iron fence in the camellia garden was painted, the azalea walk was cleared of weeds and debris and new azaleas planted. The Sensory Garden was updated and the Camellia Garden was doubled in size. A new park logo and an award-winning PKP Bark Park logo was donated by Wierhouse to celebrate the new PKP.
All of these Pendleton King Park projects were spearheaded and funded by volunteers and demonstrate how local citizens working with the City of Augusta can accomplish amazing improvements in our community. As other individuals saw volunteers working, it became contagious. Local citizens and city leaders stepped up and added their support. Park employees working with the volunteers were energized and realized that they were appreciated. Now under the Department of Recreation and Parks, PKP volunteers work with staff members in making limited Recreation funding go as far as possible. It is not the responsibility of our local government to provide everything, but working together, stepping up with actual hands on volunteering can stretch limited resources and provide our community with so much more.
The King Family & Pendleton King Park
Pendleton King Park, a 64-acre historic jewel in the center of Augusta, began with John Pendleton King (1799-1888), one of the most influential men in Georgia history. A judge and a member of the US Senate (1833-1837), he helped develop the Georgia Railroad, the Georgia Railroad Bank, the Augusta Canal and the King Mill in Augusta.
Prior to his marriage, King purchased the plantation originally belonging to the Bugg family. On the plantation was a typical three-story Southern mansion with two story white columns on the front and verandahs on both floors. On the first floor of the mansion were two drawing rooms, a library, dining room, and a morning or day room for the ladies. The kitchens were originally in a brick building behind the house, but were later moved inside for convenience. On the upper two floors were bedrooms for the family and their guests. Near the house were the brick slave quarters, the Bugg family cemetery, stables and a pond. There was an avenue of cherry trees which led to the Georgia Railroad tracks. As President of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company, Judge King walked down the tree lined avenue to the tracks, where the incoming Georgia Railroad passenger train would stop for him and take him into Augusta. He died in 1888 at the age of 88 and was buried in the St. Paul’s Churchyard. His wife died in Paris three years later.
The Kings had one son, Henry Barclay King and three daughters. Following his graduation from Oxford, Henry married Elizabeth Cashin. They were frequent guests at the Biltmore Estate in Ashville when Henry and Cornelia Vanderbilt shared mutual birthday celebrations. The family also made frequent trips to Europe. In Augusta, Henry would play an afternoon round of golf on the plantation’s nine hole golf course, have afternoon tea in the gazebo, and in the evening dress in a tuxedo for dinner.
Henry and Elizabeth had only one son, John Pendleton King II. He was called Pendleton and grew up on the family estate. Pendleton, also an Oxford graduate, was a writer, poet, and an Army Liaison Officer in Paris, France during WWI. In 1918 he was cited for bravery and awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government. Around 1912, while Pendleton was overseas, the family home burned. Workmen were preparing to paint the house and used blowtorches to soften the old paint. Fire from the blowtorches got underneath the clapboards, and the house burned to the ground. Henry and Elizabeth moved into a Sand Hills cottage on the estate and waited for Pendleton to return with the expectation he would rebuild the family mansion.
Pendleton was discharged from the Army in 1919 and returned to Augusta. After he had been home for about three weeks, he heard screams coming from Lake Elizabeth. He discovered two women drowning; he managed to save one of the women, but the other drowned. Shortly after the accident, Pendleton became ill and during a violent paroxysm of coughing, died of a probable brain aneurysm. He was only 29 years old. His parents were heartbroken and never rebuilt the mansion. In his will, Henry Barclay King designated 64 acres of the plantation as a bird sanctuary in memory of his deceased son, Pendleton.
The property deteriorated after Henry’s death, and many Augustans remember playing in the ruins of the plantation. In the 1960’s Augusta’s mayor George Sancken formed a development committee to establish Pendleton King Park. These volunteers worked tirelessly, and the park officially opened in May of 1966. The City of Augusta leases the park for one dollar a year from the property trustees, and Augusta-Richmond County is responsible for the maintenance of the park and supervision of an on-premise caretaker.
Recently, the park has experienced an explosion of volunteer work including the development of a new hydrangea garden, “The Hydrangeas at Pendleton.” In addition to the new garden, the Junior League of Augusta established two playgrounds, volunteers doubled the size of the camellia garden, and a new Children’s Sculpture Garden and Musical Garden were built by Monte Sano fourth and fifth graders under the direction of the Art Factory. The new “Bark Park” funded by the Garden Volunteers opened Christmas, 2008. A redesigned disc golf course, a new information kiosk and a new playground restroom were added in 2009. The old fence around Lake Elizabeth was removed and a fountain added. As of January, 2010, PKP has been under the management of the Augusta Richmond County Parks and Recreation Department. PKP with all of its history and beauty and recent improvements continues to bring enjoyment to new generations of our community.