Originally named Perth Park in 1895, Kings Park's design was heavily influenced by English and Aesthetic Movements that married natural-looking parklands, feature trees and expansive grassed areas with colourful displays and pavilions.
From 1897, Acting Chairman Sir John Winthrop Hackett and the Kings Park board began the development of pathways, seating, fencing and other structural items to improve accessibility for local Perth residents. Such initiatives transformed Kings Park into a popular location for Sunday afternoon promenades and a vantage point for regattas held on the Swan River.
The establishment of some of the park's historic buildings is detailed below.
With the opening of Perth Park Road and other improvements in 1897, The Lodge was built to house a site guardian. The building was occupied by park superintendents from 1904 and was dismantled in 1927 for the widening of Kings Park Road. It was re-established in its present location in 1931. Today, it is the office of the Friends of Kings Park and a meeting area for various volunteer groups.
In 1903 a caretaker's cottage was built at the Subiaco entrance to the park. The Subiaco Lodge is today, the park's oldest substantial building, constructed of rusticated limestone with a hipped and gabled roof of terracotta tiles. Restoration of this historic building commenced in 2011 to preserve the cultural heritage of Kings Park and improve the aesthetic entry from Subiaco.
Following a tender approval in 1898, a teahouse on the Terrace was built overlooking the Canning River. Tea and light refreshments were served here for several years, although it was unprofitable due to strong competition. The teahouse was moved in 1919 after a long history of dangerous landslips and tile damage. Today, it is a popular venue for weddings known as The Old Tea Pavilion and resides on Fraser Avenue overlooking the Swan River and City of Perth.
Mt Eliza House
In 1890, a Kings Park Water Reservoir Residence was built to house the catchment warden of the newly established Mt Eliza Reservoir. Today, the restored Federation home, commonly known as Mt Eliza House, is a popular venue for corporate meetings and social functions.
Royal Kings Park Tennis Club
In 1899 the Mount Tennis Club was instigated, with a tenancy of one acre of land. By 1925, this had grown to four acres on the condition that women were permitted auxiliary memberships. Today, it stands as the Royal Kings Park Tennis Club and covers a space of seven acres. In 2007, the club was restored as a part of the extensive Next Generation Kings Park works. This involved the redevelopment of the Eastman Building, preservation of the existing heritage stands and tennis courts and the removal of the old bowling club building due to asbestos. It is one of the oldest tennis clubs in the southern hemisphere.
The Karri Log was an iconic and a memorable part of Kings Park. It is remembered by generations of visitors locally and from afar. It was installed 25 June 1958 and was located on Fraser Avenue near the Garden Restaurant (now the Fraser’s Restaurant complex).
The Karri log was transported in three sections from Donnelly River in Western Australia’s south-west to Kings Park. Estimated to be 363 years old when felled, the log was 32 metres in length and weighed 110 tonnes.
Various attempts were made to preserve the log over the years with little success. Internal rot was causing the log to subside in places, causing safety concerns. It was removed on 8 October 2001 and converted to mulch for recycling into the garden beds of Kings Park.
The log was not replaced. However, the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority has planted more than 300 karri trees in the Botanic Garden for future generations.