Bunn Park initially was a privately owned amusement park known as Mildred Park. Payne, a banker and financier purchased Mildred Park in 1908 and sold it to the park district for much the same price a year later.
Later on, Mildred Park was rebranded to Bunn Park, in recognition of Secretary to the park board and entrepreneur John Bunn, in May 1913. While naming Mildred park to Bunn park, the board named a newly created park on the city’s far east side after Rev. John G. Bergen. John was a pioneer Presbyterian clergyman who initially purchased the park property from the federal government. East End Park was the colloquial name for the new facility.
Notably, the Springfield Park District parks have taken their names from U.S. presidents, subdivisions, local pioneers, donors, and others.
Here is a history of Bunn Park:
- Mildred Park, named for L. Mildred Steele Iles (1844-1903), the widow of Springfield pioneer Elijah Foster Iles (1838-1925).
- In 1898, Springfield newspapers published Mildred Park for the first time. -In 1909, the Springfield Park District purchased Mildred Park and renamed it Bunn Park in honor of investor John W. Bunn (1831-1920).
- The Bunn Park golf course first opened with nine holes in 1914 (rather than 1912, as stated on the Springfield Park District website as of April 2017).
- The Bunn Park golf course was enlarged to 18 holes in 1917.
On Aug. 16, 1905, one of the suspension bridge’s ropes snapped, sending 50 people plummeting into 12 feet of water. Folks boating on the lake took people out of the water. Two young women were injured when they became trapped in the cables.
The fact that Mildred Park was founded as a privately owned amusement park fueled cries for ownership by the district. The Springfield Improvement Association, a group of businesspeople, began attempts to assist the Springfield Park District in purchasing the park even before the disaster. According to the group, Washington Park lacked baseball, tennis, and swimming areas.
Over the years, the Bunn Golf Course, a regulation 18-hole facility, has become a prominent neighborhood feature. The course is tree-lined, with small fairways and challenging holes. Water plays a role in several holes on the course, and the 18th green is among the most challenging greens in the region.
The residents of Bunn park love the fantastic park because it’s clean, beautiful, and peaceful. They say that the park allows dogs and has trees that enable cool fresh air. The golf course is also a crowd puller.
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