Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Pullen Park showing Swimming Pool, Raleigh, N.C.

Pullen Park Swimming Pool_web

For Flashback Friday this week, now that summer 2014 is winding down, we thought we’d take a nostalgic dip in the old Pullen Park swimming pool.

Pullen Park Swimming Pool_back_web

This week’s card was postmarked on June 11, 1943.

Down here enjoying the Sunshine / Best Regards to you and Doris.
Anna H Anderson

I’m glad Anna enjoyed Raleigh’s balmy, sunshine-filled spring weather during her visit ‘down here.’ Wonder if she had a chance to take a swim in the Pullen Park pool?

Our ‘linen’-type postcard depicts an idyllic view of the Pullen Park swimming pool as seen across Howell Lake from a vantage point at Western Blvd. The park’s famous Dentzel carousel peeks out from behind the pool house.

The Pullen Park Swimming Pool: 1891-1992

Raleigh’s Pullen Park was established in 1887 by local philanthropist Richard Stanhope Pullen with a donation of 80 acres of depleted farmland about one mile west of the city limits. The park was soon enhanced with landscaping at Pullen’s direction, and tree-lined carriage drives were laid throughout the property. Rocky Branch was dammed, creating what is known today as Howell Lake, named after Pullen Park’s first superintendent, Wiley Howell.

Among these amenities, a bandstand was built at the crest of a terraced hillock with an ornamental water fountain located at its base. Electric streetcar service was extended to the park in 1891. A baseball field and a steam-powered merry-go-round appeared after the turn of the century.

The first Pullen Park swimming pool was created adjacent to the lake in 1891. Originally intended for men only, it was expanded to accommodate women in 1895. Improvements were made to the pool in the 1920s, and the facility was completely rebuilt under the WPA in the 1930s.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

This photo shows how the refurbished Pullen Park swimming pool appeared in the late 1930s.

Below is an aerial view from the early 1940s which shows the swimming pool in context with the carousel, Howell Lake, NC State University and a two-lane Western Blvd. 

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

Pullen Park swimming pool served Raleigh residents through the 1980s; by then, however, it had become woefully evident that the aging pool needed to be replaced by a modern aquatic facility.

As a result, the city opened the Pullen Aquatic Center in a separate building complex just north of the old pool in 1992. The center contains an Olympic size swimming pool, a warm water therapy pool, a mezzanine for spectator seating, an outdoor patio and locker room facilities.

Today, the site of Pullen Park’s first swimming pool is now an open, landscaped plaza which greets thousands of park visitors as they approach the recently restored Dentzel carousel.

You can learn more about Pullen Park, its history, the Dentzel carousel, the Pullen Aquatic Center, and all the park’s amenities by visiting the City of Raleigh’s Pullen Park website.


Our Flashback Friday ‘white border linen’ postcard this week was published locally by the Raleigh News Agency. It was printed by Tichnor Brothers of Boston, under the trade name ‘Tichnor Quality Views.’

Tichnor Brothers, Inc.   (1912-1987) Boston and Cambridge, MA

A major publisher and printer of a wide variety of postcards types. Their view-cards were produced on a national level. Their photochomes went under the trade name Lusterchrome. They also produced an early Tichnor Gloss series in offset lithography that was so heavily retouched they floated somewhere between being artist drawn and being a photograph. The company was sold in 1987 to Paper Majic.

Tichnor Bros logo


“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week end treat!