Burns Park is named after Botany professor George Burns who was the Ann Arbor Commissioner for a time. He was an enthusiast of city planning and developed many parks. In 1910 the old fairgrounds, which were located here, were changed to a park and named in his honor.
In 1921, the four acres of land on the western edge of the park was sold to the Ann Arbor Public schools. Construction on the school began in 1923. The first students started here on February 2, 1925. The school was named after the first president of the University of Michigan, Henry P. Tappan, and the first Tappan school which had been recently sold to the University of Michigan due to its location adjacent to central campus. That location is currently near where East Hall resides.
In 1951, a new junior high school was built on Stadium Boulevard, it took the name Tappan with it and this school was renamed Burns Park Elementary due to the location next to the park.
Magic Mountain is the well-known hill on the southwestern portion of Burns Park. When the mound in the center of the race track was leveled in the 1930s, the pile of dirt was moved to the south side of the park and the city never removed it. It is now popular for sledding in the winter and bike riding in the summer.
The parks department planted American elms in the oval that had been the race track. This is where the parent-run Walk and Talk program takes place during lunch recess every fall and spring.
The Burns Park School mascot is a Penguin and all who attend the school are reminded “Once a Burns Park Penguin, always a Burns Park Penguin.”