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MacRae Park

Donald H MacRae.jpg
Lake Elizabeth South Park.jpg


MacRae Park, purchased by the city in 1897, was once called South Park due to its location directly south of downtown Des Moines.  In 1919, South Park was renamed to Donald MacRae Park to honor Iowa's first casualty of World War 1, Donald MacRae. Donald was a local boy who attended Drake University before serving under Captain Fleur in France during the war.  The enclosed Walker Shelter was built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  The MacRae Park Pond, once called Lake Elizabeth, was dug by hand also by the WPA.   

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WPA digging pond by hand (2).jpg
WPA digging pond by hand (3).jpg


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Phase 1 and 2 Projects.jpg


Phase 1 of the MacRae Park Improvements included the renovation of the Walker Shelter and the rehabilitation of a portion of the park road and a new parking lot for visitors to the reservable Walker Shelter. 



Phase 2 included the EMC Overlook, the Julia Brenton Shelter, a larger section of the park road and trail, and major improvements to the pond.  


Spring - Fall 2022

MacRae Park Improvements Phase 3 will take just over a year to construct and are anticipated to be complete in 2022.

Estimated Cost

The lofty improvements planned for Phase 3 are currently estimated at $2.5 million dollars. To accomplish all that is planned, fundraising $750,000 will be necessary. Roughly half of that goal is met and we would be honored to receive your help to close the gap. We are grateful for the generous support of our many park stewards that make landmark projects such as this a reality. Thank you!

To learn more, contact Jenny Richmond at (515) 248-6360.

The Friends of Des Moines Parks is a nonprofit 501c3 organization with a mission to preserve, protect, improve, and promote the use of Des Moines’ parks, greenways, and recreational programs for the benefit of all neighborhoods, residents, and visitors. The Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department is not responsible for replacing trees in the event that they are damaged due to normal wear and tear, natural disaster or vandalism. Please contact your tax professional to determine if your purchase is tax-deductible. 

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