H. Lee Bancroft

City of Lansing Parks & Recreation

Parks and Recreation is a field made possible by all types of people and roles, from custodians to secretaries to directors. Among these many roles, occasionally someone comes along as something of a “pacesetter,” encouraging others around them and creating much greater impact than would seem possible for an individual. H. Lee Bancroft embodies that description, having essentially served as the “Father of Lansing’s Park and Recreation System” through the years.

Bancroft received his Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry from Michigan State University back when it was known as Michigan Agriculture College, beginning his career immediately after graduation as a forester and superintendent of parks for the City of Lansing in 1913. At the time, Lansing had just 2 parks, and early on, Bancroft began laying the cornerstone for a Department of Parks and Recreation which would become one of the most outstanding in the nation.

Some of Bancroft’s notable achievements were starting the city’s first organized baseball program; establishing the Lincoln Center; and writing an ordinance to protect, maintain, and propagate city street trees, which helped the city to become affectionately known as “City in the Forest.” Later Bancroft brought his zeal to other elements of city offerings as he became responsible for city recreation programs and cemeteries. By his retirement, he had paved the way for major expansion and improvement of the park and recreation system, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a municipal golf course, 30 playgrounds, and 32 parks, one of which is named after him as Bancroft Park.

Bancroft also served a critical role in the founding of mParks in 1935, when it was established as Michigan Municipal Amateur Athletic Association. Without the work of members like Bancroft, the valuable work of the Association for parks and recreation professionals would have never been possible. He also served his community and the parks and recreation profession as Vice President of the American Institute of Park Executives; a charter member and president of the Michigan Forestry and Park Association, and as a member of the MSU Downtown Coaches Club. As a member of the Lansing City Planning Commission, he further helped Lansing develop its extensive parks and recreation system through the envisioning of future public park sites and developing critical relationships with other city officials.

mParks is pleased today to recognize the founding role Bancroft played in Lansing Parks and Recreation, in mParks, and beyond. 



2017 mParks Hall of Fame Reception & Induction Ceremony

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Summit on the Park  |  46000 Summit Parkway, Canton, MI

6:00 pm Cocktail Reception & Hors d'oeuvres6:30 pm Dinner and Induction Ceremony
Dessert and Hall of Fame unveiling to follow
$60 per ticket


2017 mParks Hall of Fame Reception & Induction Ceremony