Historic Everett home page

Forest Park self-guided history tour
Everett, Washington

Park Index

Jump to a feature of interest:

Zoo Pool
Playground Floral Hall
Snow Fair

Park History

The entrance to Forest Park. Jack O'Donnell collection
This history is largely based on Jack O'Donnell's article for ___. His sources were "The History of Everett Parks: A Century of Service and Vision" by Allan May and Dale Preboski, The Everett Daily Herald, and David Dilgard, historian in the Everett Public Library NW room.

Everett's second oldest park began in 1894 when ten acres were purchased for under $10,000. The depression of 1893 left the area in financial difficulties, so it was not developed for some years. Another 80 acres were added in 1909, purchased from the Swalwell family. It was named Forest Park in 1913, and three years laters another 20 acres added. This last section connected the park to Puget Sound via Pigeon Creek.

In the early days, it was used primarily for hunting, fishing and picnicking. Over the years the zoo grew when the park was under the management of Oden Hall, his brother Walter, and his son John. All three men had stints as park superintendent.

During the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) worked the plantings, cleared pastures for zoo animals, terraced the hillsides and built a trail system.

Zoo

In 1914 three deer, two coyotes and two pelicans were given to the city to start the Forest Park zoo. The bear cage was erected in 1919. Animals arrived from other zoos and circuses. Food was grown on site for the non-carnivores, dead livestock and road kill fed the meat eaters. The zoo flourished in the 1920s and included lions, bison, elk, zebras, bears, goats, raccoons, kangaroos, and a skunk. At one point, the zoo had 200 animals.

By the 1950s, the zoo and playground needed much maintenance, but voters did not approve bond issues. The monkey house smelled horribly. The zoo was mostly phased out by 1962, except for the bears. Unfortunately, vandalism of the bear cage caused problems. In one instance two bears were shot and killed. In another, cages were opened and three bears made their way onto Mukilteo Blvd. They remained until 1976. Peacocks wandered the park and nearby neighborhoods for years, but are gone today.

Rotary Centennial Water Playground

The wading pool sponsored by the Lions Club was dedicated on June 8, 1932. At 75 by 45 feet it was proclaimed one of the largest and best constructed in the Northwest. Its centerpiece was a statue of two larger than life babies designed by Everett artist Frances Hedges. Do we have a photo of statue?

Floral Hall

1940. Everett Public Library archives

Floral Hall was the brainchild of the Snohomish County Gladiolus Society. It was finished in time for the 1940 gladiolus show. The WPA completed Floral Hall in the National Parks "Rustic Style". The unhewn peeled cedar timbers came from the Three Lakes area. Originally the hall had a 12-foot veranda on the north and west sides. A 1963 remodel enclosed the west side and added a kitchen. The brick fireplace, made from in local river rock, was built along the east wall A stage filled the south end. Maple flooring and wagon wheels in the overhead light fixtures completed the look.

The hall was renovated in 1989 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Forest Park Swim Center

On the site of the Monkey House a million-dollar swimming pool was opened in 1976. Its convertible fabric roof was replaced with a permanent roof in 1984 after being damaged in a storm. A new concession building, built by the Everett Junior College carpentry crew, opened in 1964.

Snow Fair (1952-53)

Jack O'Donnell collection

On January 19, 1952, the first two-day Snofair got under way. A ski jump was built by the Skiers Club over the wading pool atop the park's main hill. Skiers flew down to the bowl below. A crowd of 7,000 townspeople watched 70 contestants. A second very popular Snofair was held on January 24-25, 1953. Due to lack of snow, the American Ice Company supplied the slippery surfaces.

Note: for more Everett neighborhoods, see the tours page.

End of walking tour

We hope you enjoyed your walking tour of Forest Park! For more tours, see Historic Everett walking tours. Write us below if you have comments, more history, or questions.


Historic Everett home page

Contact us