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Home / Johnson’s Local Park – Park Renovation

Johnson’s Local Park – Park Renovation

Project Description 

Johnson’s Local Park is located at 18000 Washington Grove Lane in Gaithersburg. The goal of this renovation project is to update existing amenities and explore possibilities for new amenities to upgrade experiences for recreation and community gathering in the park. Highlighting the park’s history and its relationship to the historic community of Emory Grove will be a focus of the project. 


Johnson’s Local Park serves a diverse population from surrounding neighborhoods and provides opportunities for active recreation, social connection, and enjoyment of the outdoors under the park’s oak trees. Currently, the park has two tennis courts, two basketball courts, a playground, picnic shelter, and a softball field.  


Johnson’s Local Park has a rich history in the Emory Grove community. Founded in 1864 when formerly enslaved people bought tracts of land in the area, Emory Grove became home to a tight-knit African American community. By 1880, it was well-known regionally for religious camp meetings. Thousands of worshippers came in the August heat to listen to sermons, sing, and share food and fellowship underneath the grove of oak trees still providing shade in the park today.  

Businessman Edward Johnson bought the grounds in 1947. He added a dance hall and a lighted baseball field, complete with a grandstand and a concessions. At a time when racial restrictions blocked African Americans from fair access to parks and recreation, Johnson’s Park was a hub of social and community life. Baseball games were particularly popular on Sunday afternoons after church.  

In 1974 Emory Grove was selected for a federally funded urban renewal program to bring sewer lines and indoor plumbing to the neighborhood. Most of the homes and businesses in the community were demolished and replaced with homes many former residents could no longer afford. During this time, the advocacy of residents saved Johnson’s Park from the same fate. The park became Montgomery Parks parkland in 1974. Initially called Emory Grove Local Park, the community requested its name be restored in 1995.

Status/Project Update 

Montgomery Parks’ staff is conducting community outreach and analyzing existing conditions as they work towards recommendations for park programming and conceptual planning for the park renovation. 

At the same time, Parks’ Cultural Resources staff is working with residents and descendants of the Emory Grove community to bring stories about the community’s history into the park, through signage and other materials and activities. 

Calendar and Meeting Notes

*Dates and times are subject to change. Please contact the Project Manager for the latest update.

Winter – Spring 2024 Community Outreach and Existing Conditions Analysis N/A
January 21, 2024
Staff to present at Heritage Emory Grove community meetingUp County Early Childhood Center:
18100 Washington Grove Lane
Gaithersburg, MD 20877 
Last Updated: June 17, 2024