Pullen Park is one of the oldest public parks in North Carolina. Richard Stanhope Pullen, who inherited a large sum of money from an uncle, donated land to the City of Raleigh for the enjoyment of the citizens of the state’s capital on March 22, 1887. Pullen actively contributed to the planning and landscaping of the park until his death in 1895.
Many enhancements were made over the years, including a swimming pool, carousel, fountains, and a round pavilion for outdoor entertainment. The public swimming pool was made out of wood (today Pullen Aquatic Center) and was built in 1891. It was used exclusively by men. Later in 1895, Mr. Pullen designated a second location for a swimming pool exclusively for women and girls. In 1915 a steam driven "merry-go-round" was installed. The 1921 carousel (built in 1911) was restored extensively in the late 1970s.
Over the years, the park has received many improvements and enhancements such as the restored carousel, the miniature train, kids boat ride, pedal boats on the pond and picnic facilities. The park was closed in 2009-2011 for major renovations. During the 2009-2011 closing, the welcome center, pond, landscaping and playground were extensively restored and upgraded.
In addition, Pullen Park offers typical park attractions like a playground, picnic shelters and tennis courts. Pullen Park is the 14th oldest amusement park in the world according to the The National Amusement Park Historical Association.
One of the iconic attractions at Pullen Park is the turn of the century Carousel made by master carver Salvatore Cernigliaro of Germantown, Pennsylvania. It features a 1924 Wurlitzer organ, 52 hand carved carousel animals and 18 gilded mirrors. Only 14 of these carousels remain in operation within the United States. The carousel was accepted for the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Carousel fell into disrepair but a major restoration was undertaken from 1977-1982. Children and adults can ride this historical treasure when the park is open. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall to ride alone; if under 42 inches a parent or guardian must ride with them, and both require a ticket.
"C.P. Huntington C.P. #3" is the miniature train that operates at Pullen Park. It is enjoyed by young and old alike and was added to the park in 1950. It is a one-third size, near exact replica of a locomotive that was built in 1863 by the then Vice-President of Central Pacific, Collis P. Huntington. That original train, from which the Pullen Park miniature is a replica of, was used in construction work to pull wooded flat cars on rails as new track was constructed. You can ride the miniature train as it makes its rounds when the park is open. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall to ride alone, if under 42 inches a parent or guardian must also ride, and both require a ticket.
Pullen Park has a small lake in the amusement area of the park. Four-person pedal boats are available for exploring the lake. Near the amusement attractions area is a recently renovated playground. Playground equipment is geared towards many age groups, but most of the equipment focuses on children ages 2-12. Pullen Park has a variety of recreation facilities: softball field, baseball field, aquatic center, and tennis courts. The softball and baseball fields can be rented.
Pullen Park is also home to the Theatre in the Park and the Pullen Arts Center. They are both located in the section of the park that is north of the railroad lines.
Theatre in the Park
Theatre in the Park has been producing performances since 1947. Originally Theatre in the Park was known as The Children's Theatre of Raleigh, but the theater received its current name in the early 1970s to better reflect its increasing variety of performances.
Productions are produced by both Theatre in the Park employees and volunteers. Performances range from classic plays to contemporary productions.
Theatre in the Park has received numerous awards for their productions.
Pullen Arts Center
Pullen Arts Center is an arts education facility for adults and children of varying artistic skill levels. Classes are open to both Raleigh residents and non-residents.
The center has a variety of programming including: bookmaking, drawing, fiber arts & weaving, glass arts, pottery, jewelry, painting and printmaking. Previous program participants can continue to use studio space at the center if the are at least 16 years old.
Pullen Park provides many different rental spaces to host events. Spaces range from outdoor picnic shelters to large indoor meeting rooms. More information can be found on the City of Raleigh's website.
- Pullen Park Homepage
- National Amusement Park Historical Association
- Theatre in the Park
- Pullen Arts Center