Bolivar, Missouri Dunnegan Memorial Park

Your final stop on this tour of beautiful and historic Bolivar is none other than our biggest and oldest park: Dunnegan Memorial Park. You are visiting at a special time – this year, 2023, marks the 100th anniversary of the park. The city is recognizing it with a yearlong celebration of its original donor and the history it has endured. The City of Bolivar government and Parks and Recreation Department are coordinating events at the park throughout 2023, including community clean-up days, fishing days, food truck visits, movie nights, and fitness classes. According to Jill Way, Public Information and Media Specialist for the City of Bolivar, “We want to look back at the park’s rich history, highlight the current crown jewel park of Bolivar and encourage the community to preserve our current parks system and form a vision for more parks for future generations.” The city also launched a 100 Miles for 100 Years of Dunnegan Memorial Park walking campaign, designed to welcome visitors to the park and raise funds for park restoration projects. They are also seeking major gift sponsorships for equipment
to mark the occasion.

The land where the park is located was donated by a frequent character in this historic tour: T. H. B. Dunnegan, a local philanthropist. In December 1920, he offered the land to the city through the Bolivar Commercial Club. He had used the land in the past for a reunion ground for old settlers’ picnics, the Grand Army of the Republic, and various other groups of veterans. The city council named the park Dunnegan Memorial Park. The dedication of the park was held on July 4, 1922. In his address to the crowd, Dunnegan confessed to the crowd:

“Realizing that as the years go, the people will more and more need a breathing ground, and as my people have lived among this [sic] people from the earliest settlement of this county, I have concluded to donate this plot of land to the City of Bolivar and Polk County as a public park to be known as Dunnegan Memorial Park, to the memory of all who have fallen in defense of our land [and] country[.] [A]nd to you, Mr. Mayor, I present this plot with the injunction that you, and your successors, preserve and beautify it for the use and pleasure of all the people.”

The 44-acre Dunnegan Park now stands as an open and welcoming place for the people of Bolivar. It contains “multiple playgrounds, one of which was made for children with disabilities, a small lake, a walking trail that’s just over a mile, a path for cross-country runners, seasonal restrooms, a few pavilions, picnic tables and barbecue grills.” It is maintained by a small group of Parks and Recreation Department employees and volunteers via the Friends of Bolivar Parks. They have installed QR codes throughout the park with history and nature lessons, and as of 2021, they were working to install Wi-Fi capabilities in an otherwise “dead zone” of the park. Generations of families come to feed the many ducks in the pond, and students from Bolivar Schools and Southwest Baptist University are also seen with hammocks. Visitors still obey the rule sheet from the 1940s, which includes keeping to the right when driving, do not break or damage bushes and trees, not hunting or fishing, and camping is prohibited. Bolivar has been careful to preserve and maintain its past. We hope this trip has been enlightening and fun, and we trust you will continue to use Historic Missouri for your next trip as you explore the Show-Me State.



601 MO-83, Bolivar, MO 65613 ~ Entrance located at 601 W. Forest (N. Highway 83) and N. Park Ave., Between Parkview Health Care Facility and Butterfield Residential Care Center on W. Forest St. (MO Hwy 83).