Reaney Park, Pullman's oldest public park, has served as an important community gathering place and recreation spot for residents since the early 1900s. Throughout its history, the park has hosted community celebrations, from Fourth of July festivities to the city's National Lentil Festival. Pullman voters authorized the city to purchase the land from the Reaneys in 1904; following the purchase, the city invested in the park to expand its amenities, installing a bandstand for concerts and a swimming pool.
As early as 1898, the Reaney Park site hosted city
celebrations and community events. Albert (Al) Reaney (1851–1910) and his wife
Phoebe (1851–1924), owned the property but generously shared the park-like
setting with the community, which called the site “Reaney’s Park.” The park
featured shady trees, an artesian fountain, and even swings installed by Mr.
Reaney.1 A July 12, 1902,
editorial in The Pullman Herald called for the city to purchase the park,
noting its “thrifty growing grove of elm, pine, chestnut and poplar” and heralded
the park as “one of the pleasantest places in Eastern Washington.”2 Pullman voters banded
together in the summer of 1904 to authorize the City of Pullman to purchase
Reaneys park for $2,600.3
Albert and Phoebe Reaney were key players in the development
of Pullman. Albert arrived in Pullman in ca. 1880, joining the local Odd
Fellows lodge in 1882. He established his homestead where the College Hill
residential district exists today.
The park continued to be an important place for the
community. The bandstand was constructed and native buckeye trees planted in
1915. The city park commission began a series of improvements to the park in
1916. During this time, the city purchased even more property for the park,
including additional lots from Phoebe for $300 in order to construct a swimming
pool. The City and the Chamber of Commerce jointly funded the pool’s
construction, an estimated $1,500.4 The pool opened for
use at the end of the summer in 1917. The artesian well in the park originally
supplied the water for the pool.
In 1931, the Kiwanis Club worked with architecture students
to redesign the park with new paths, shrubs, trees, and a parking lot to
accommodate the growing number of vehicles in Pullman. In the 1940s the park
even included a small golf area. Today, Reaney Park is a popular summer
gathering spot with its swimming pool, annual concert series, and the city’s
well-known National Lentil Festival. The park also retains two Washington State
champion Ohio Buckeye trees on its grounds.5