Named in honor of former Jefferson County Judge Executive Erbon Powers Sawyer (1915-1969), the Commonwealth of Kentucky originally purchased the land for the park in June 1969 from the Kentucky Department of Mental Health. The Kentucky Department of Parks leased the land and the buildings in 1970 and the park opened in 1974. A majority of the 550 acre property was once the location of Central State hospital.
The park’s amenities include an activities center with a gymnasium that has indoor courts for badminton, basketball, and volleyball as well as an Olympic-sized swimming pool and weight room. The park also has 12 tennis courts, 14 soccer fields, 3 lighted softball fields, a mile-long fitness trail, a 1¼ mile nature trail, a permanent BMX track, a model aircraft airfield, a dog park, playgrounds, and picnic facilities. The park is also home to the Louisville Astronomical Society’s “Urban Astronomy Center.”
Another notable facility in the park is the Sawyer-Hayes community center. In 2003, Mrs. Jean Sawyer-Hayes, widow of both Judge Sawyer and former hospital superintendent Dr. Ray Hayes met with former Sawyer park director Rita Strosberg. Mrs. Sawyer-Hayes wanted to create a memorial to both of her deceased husbands. With matching donations from the foundation she had established and from the State of Kentucky, the community center opened in 2009.
For further information, please visit the E.P. “Tom” Sawyer website.
– Contributed by Jay Gravatte