Lannan Foundation donates park to City of Marfa

The Lannan Foundation is donating a small community park in Northwest Marfa which they have maintained for over 15 years to the City of Marfa. Staff photo by Mary Cantrell.

MARFA — The Lannan Foundation is in the process of donating a public park located on West 2nd and North Gonzales streets to the City of Marfa. 

The foundation, which operated a literary residency for visiting artists for 24 years and owns a number of properties in town, announced in April it would close over a period of 10 years, by 2032, and would dissolve its assets. Patrick Lannan, the son of original founder J. Patrick Lannan Sr., passed away on July 27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  

Frank Lawler, executive vice president and director of administration of the Lannan Foundation, said the foundation was contacted by neighboring landowners who asked whether the public park could be preserved in its current state. The foundation decided to donate the park in order to ensure it would continue to act as a public green space for local residents. 

“Lannan Foundation has always been grateful to the people of Marfa for their hospitality to us and the kindness shown to our visiting writers. We established the park for the benefit of the neighborhood and our directors felt it best to offer the park as a gift to the City of Marfa for the continued enjoyment of all,” said Lawler. 

Lawler was unable to provide any other updates on the remaining Lannan-owned properties in Marfa. 

At last week’s regular city council meeting, council members were receptive to the idea of accepting Lannan’s park donation, and city employees were directed to work with Lannan on the technicalities of the gift. Trey Gerfers, president of the Parks and Recreation Board, was present at the meeting and said the board intended to hire the park’s existing maintenance crew to continue upkeep on the park so as to not burden city maintenance workers with another project. 

Douglas Humble, local coordinator for the foundation, said the lots that make up the park were purchased in the early 2000s and at the time were just vacant, dusty lots. Humble’s wife, Kristin Bonkemeyer, built the house adjacent to the park across Summer Street for the Lannan Foundation in 2004. At the time, she worked with Marfa landscape architect Jim Martinez to draft a plan for the park, which consists of areas for native grasses and gravel walkways. Humble said the foundation planted most of the trees, including some oaks and desert willows, at the park.

The park has been used for birthday parties and yearly easter egg hunts over the years, he said. The park’s unique furniture, benches and chairs carved out of a tree with a chainsaw, will likely remain, said Humble, explaining the foundation received them from a local church that no longer wanted them.