The first thing visitors to Denniston Park notice when visiting the park is its curious shape. This park was originally a small spring-fed lake on the Denniston family farm which gives it the unusual appearance of a paramecium-shaped bowl today. Samuel and Sarah Denniston moved from Iowa to Oklahoma County with their children in 1891. Along with their son George they operated a small family farm on 80 acres which bounded from May Ave to Independence Ave and NW 23 to NW 27. Samuel’s brother James had the neighboring 80-acre farm to the north.
As the city grew nearer to the farm and as Samuel and Sarah grew closer to retirement, they developed the area around the lake into an amusement area. They hired a lifeguard and opened the lake to the public for swimming and for the price of a nickel, visitors could swim, enjoy the playground equipment, or have a picnic. In the summer the Dennistons also provided cold drinks.
By the 1930s, the Dennistons were in their 80s and the city had grown to the doorstep of their farmhouse so the family provided part of their land for Taft Junior High School and Taft Stadium and donated Denniston Park to the city’s parks department. The rest of the farm was developed into today’s Denniston Park neighborhood. The lake was drained shortly after becoming a city park.