On a hot summer day in 1916, Dr. S.M. “Froggy” Sewell, a mathematics professor, went wading into the brush- and weed-choked San Marcos River. No place was deeper than three feet, and he decided that the university needed a park.
In 1917, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries leased the college four acres of land along the river. College workers, armed with mud scrapers and mules, cleaned the river bottom, built up the banks and smoothed the slopes. It was called Riverside Park until 1946, when it was renamed in honor of Sewell.
The park's current look is the result of a $1 million renovation in 1984. Sewell is now a favorite student hangout on campus. The six-acre park features grassy banks for soaking up sun or playing Frisbee with friends. Stairs provide easy access for swimming or snorkeling in the San Marcos River. The park also features a basketball court, volleyball courts and picnic and barbecue areas — all along the riverbank.
In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama made a campaign stop at Sewell Park, addressing a crowd of several thousand.