The park and Italianate Victorian house date to 1877-1878 when they were built for Asahel Bush, founder of the Oregon Statesman newspaper and subsequently of the Ladd and Bush Bank. In 1882 Bush added a still-extant conservatory for his daughters, claimed to be the first greenhouse west of the Mississippi River. It is now filled with period plants.
Today the park contains trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, natural groves of old Oregon White Oak trees, cherry and apple orchards, and a rose garden with over 2,000 roses. Willamette University's McCulloch Stadium (football, track and field) and Spec Keene Stadium (baseball) are located in the park, hosting a variety of university and community events, such as the Salem Jaycees' Kids Relays and the amateur soccer team the Cascade Surge of the USL Premier Development League. The park also has a soap box derby track that is home to the Salem Soap Box Derby and downhill skateboarding events.
The park is open daily to the public. Tours can be taken of the Bush House Museum for a small admission fee, and the Bush Barn Art Center is free and open to the public. Both the Museum and the Art Center have rotating exhibits and are operated by the Salem Art Association. The Art Association also organizes the Salem Art Fair and Festival in the park each year on the third weekend of July.