Park History


Historic Newspaper Article From 1925


Terre Haute Tribune Newspaper; Saturday, September 11, 1925; Jack Hanna, Reporter

Rea Golf Links Formally Given to Terre Haute; Eighteen-Hole Course Becomes Official Property of City During Impressive Ceremonies; Mrs. Rea Drives First 

Brief but impressive ceremonies marked the dedication of memorial to Terre Haute's most beloved citizens that will live through the ages.  On Wednesday night, a banquet at which city officials and citizens had gathered, William S. Rea Park became the official property of the city of Terre Haute when the deed was formally presented by Mrs. Rea and acknowledgement of the gift was made by Mayor Davis.  But yesterday, the golf course and the beautiful clubhouse was formally delivered to the citizens of Terre Haute for their enjoyment. 

Sense Value to City.  After the first ball had been driven from the tee by Mrs. Rea, a number of foursomes followed, and when darkness settled over the course to such extent that it was no longer possible to follow the ball in its flight, the golf enthusiasts left the course with a keener sense of what Rea Park actually means to the life of the city, and with a deeper appreciation of the public spirited donors who had made such a park possible.  It was indeed a day in the civic life of Terre Haute that will be long remembered and should mark a new epoch in the recreation life of the city.


During the entire afternoon, this beautiful clubhouse was open for inspection and throngs of Terre Haute citizens journeyed through various rooms and added their tributes to the numerous others that have been paid.  At 6 o'clock the assembly was called to order by Mayor Ora Davis, who spoke briefly of the pleasure derived from this occasion and what it meant to the city of Terre Haute.  He then introduced John T. Beasley, a close friend of the Rea Family, who made the short dedicatory address. 

Praises Rea's Life.  Mr. Beasley paid high compliment to the life of William S. Rea and spoke of him as a quiet, unobtrusive man of business who did not allow his business cares to overshadow his great public spirit and his overwhelming desire to do something that might stand for the good of humanity throughout the ages yet to come.  He spoke of how, at his death, Mr. Rea had left the sum of $100,000 on deposit at the Citizens Trust Company for the purpose of establishing a park in Terre Haute on the condition that the city accept the gift, establish the park, beautify it, and retain it as the William S. Rea Memorial Park.

Mr. Beasley then stressed the fact that it was no easy matter to carry out the provisions of the gift.  After the present site had finally been selected and purchased, he spoke of the difficulty that the city administration faced in obtaining funds to carry out the work of beautifying the park as they had agreed to do in their acceptance. 

"These matters," Mr. Beasley said, "were brought before Geraldine Rea, who held the same public spirit that her husband had held, and in her quiet and beautiful way, she expressed a determination to build a clubhouse.  This magnificent structure, the finest of its kind in the state, that we are here today dedicating, is the result of that gift."

Recommends Golf.  "While this park will be made the center of other recreational activities in the next few years, there is nothing finer than the great game of golf.  It provides plenty of physical exercise, has its broadening influence and cements friendship in such a manner as nothing else can.  I believe that the average American citizen - that is the one who works at all - works too hard and nothing offers greater inducement to the business man to get out in the open air and forget the worries of business affairs than do golf courses.  This course is one of the most beautiful in the state, even the country, and is something of which Terre Haute may well be proud."

Mr. Beasley also addressed the fact that while Terre Haute may have gained a reputation of not being all that it ought to be, this fact came largely because the people of Terre Haute had not yet realized the many things they possessed of which they might well be proud.  He cited a number of these, including the various institutions of learning and benevolent institutions, the Memorial Stadium and last, but by no means the least, the Rea Park golf course.

Bronze Tablets Unveiled.  At the conclusion of Mr. Beasley's address, the beautiful bronze tablets at the west entrance to the clubhouse were unveiled and the course officially opened.  After Mrs. Rea had driven the first ball down the middle of the fairway for a considerable distance in spite of the fact it was the first time she had ever swung a golf club, two scheduled foursomes took their places on the tee. Playing in the first group were Mayor Ora Davis, John T. Beasley, Wood Posey and Fred Heinl.  This foursome was followed by Bill Kendall, Phoenix club professional; Emerson Staup, Deming club professional; Paul Wood, Fort Harrison club professional; and Bobby Hess, amateur champion.  While these foursomes were followed from the tee by several others, none of them were able to complete 18 holes of play before darkness had settle over the course. 

Course One of the Best.  As pointed out by Mr. Beasley yesterday in his short talk, Rea Park is now undoubtedly ready to take its place as one of the best, if not the best, municipal courses in the state.  While the fairways are rolling, they are not too rolling to make play especially hazardous and are kept in excellent condition.  The fairways on the new nine holes are already in good shape for play and will get better as they are used.  Under the watchful eye of Ray Clark, constructionist for the course, the greens are in the very best of shape and cannot be equaled on any course in the country.  During the last few months, Clark has spent untiring efforts in getting the course in shape and his efforts have been rewarded.  Seldom does a municipal course develop so rapidly as has Rea Park. 

Play over the 18 holes will be open to the general public today with a charge of 50 cents.  If only nine holes are played, the cost will remain the same as it has always been.  The player may go the first nine holes and then, if he chooses to complete the course, obtain tickets at the 10th tee, which is near the clubhouse, to finish the course.  

In the professionals play yesterday, Bill Kendall turned in a count of 36, one under par for the first nine holes, and that is sufficient evidence that the course is in good condition. 

Did You Know

  • Rea Park has been a Terre Haute community fixture since 1925 ...
  • Terre Haute grocery magnate William S. Rea left $100,000 in his will to build the park in 1919, nearly $1.5 million in today's dollars.
  • His widow, Geraldine Rea, donated an additional $60,000 in 1925 to build a clubhouse, nearly $894,000 in 2017 dollars.
  • Local architectural firm Johnson, Miller, Miller and Yeager - prolific in the early 20th century - designed a clubhouse of high-style Mediterranean style.
  • The original Rea Park golf course was landscaped by prominate Indiana architect Lawrence Sheridan.  Ray Clark was the course constructionist.
  • Tennis courts were added to Rea Park in later years.  Several players who played at Rea Park have gained international acclaim in world tennis circles.
  • Sometime after the opening of the second nine holes, the nines were switched.  Today's back nine was the front nine in early days. Number 10 hole was the first hole when Rea Park first opened in the early 1920s.