2019 will be the 98th season of golf and tennis at Rea Park since it opened in 1922.
During the summer of 2013, Mike Harding, a former resident and employee of Rea Park, returned to Terre Haute, IN only to see that Rea Park's historic clubhouse had fallen into disrepair. Mike had served as an assistant superintendent of instruction during his career as an Indiana public school administrator, and was aware grants may be available to help the park. He contacted two individuals to see if they could assist in obtaining funds from various sources for rehabilitating the clubhouse. These two individuals were Scott Williams of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation and Tommy Kleckner of Indiana Landmarks.
Over the course of the next several months, these three individuals met with Eddie Bird, superintendent of parks for Terre Haute. In November of 2013, the four agreed to develop a presentation that would be given to the Terre Haute Parks Board at their March, 2014 meeting. This presentation would emphasize the need to restore Rea Park's historic clubhouse, and eventually, renew the entire park.
On March 17, 2014, the group met with the Terre Haute Parks Board to present their ideas. The parks board gave their approval for a new group to work with Superintendent Bird and the Parks Board. Friends of Rea Park, a non-profit modeled off a friends group in Evansville, IN that wanted to save Bosse Field, would now be able to help the city further develop Rea Park. Indiana State Parks Foundation friends group guidelines were used as an example of how to organize and manage a friends group for Rea Park.
In August 2014, a meeting was conducted to inform the public about Friends of Rea Park, and to recruit new associates. It was conducted at the Rea Park clubhouse. After the meeting, several submitted their names declaring their interest in becoming founding members of Friends of Rea Park, Inc. From this group, a steering committee was formed.
A summary of major activities that have taken place since that time follows:
Friends of Rea Park functions today as a fully-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit entity working with the Terre Haute Parks Department and Rea Park staff in an effort to beautify and maintain the park, as was Mrs. Rea's wish and the city's 1922 promise to the Rea Family.