Backstory and Context
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
1. The Pullman Herald, July 9, 1898: 1.
2. The Pullman Herald, July 12, 1902: 1.
3. "Vote to Buy Reaney’s Park," The Pullman Herald, August 6, 1904: 1.
4. "Get Out Your Suits; Swimming Pool Soon," The Pullman Herald, August 10, 1917: 1.
5. Robert Van Pelt, Champion
Trees of Washington State (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996),