Lithia Park began in 1892 as eight acres dedicated to entertainment and culture. It has grown and changed dramatically, and today comprises 93 acres, 42 of which are on the National Register. In 1910 the lower duck pond and waterfall feeding it were constructed. In 1914 John McLaren, who also designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, was hired as Lithia Park’s landscape architect. His layout of the park was organic in nature, following the natural canyon of the water course. Many of the features he designed can still be seen today. Lithia Park was also the original home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which began in 1935. The walls of the original theater still stand, surrounding the Elizabethan Stage.
More modern features of the park include manicured lawns, tennis courts, sand pit volleyball courts, a picnic area and playground. Free performances are frequently offered at the Butler Bandshell. For performance schedules and further information call 541-488-5340 or visit www.ashland.or.us/LithiaHappenings. Ashland Parks & Recreation offers free nature walks with trained volunteer naturalists from May through September, 10 to 11:30am on Saturdays (July and August only) and Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour with the updated Lithia Park Trail Guide, available for purchase at the Ashland Parks & Recreation office or the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.