St Stephens Park was originally a swimming pool park, operated by the local neighborhood association. The park was built in 1979 with funding provided through a $75,000 federal grant received from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. After the neighborhood association dissolved in 1985, the City of Hickory operated the park until 2005, when the pool was in need of extensive repairs and patronage was decreasing.
Catawba County began renovating the park in 2007 to convert the park into a passive recreation facility. The original pool house was remodeled and converted to an office, meeting area, and upgraded restroom space. The swimming pool was removed and replaced with educational landscaping. The picnic shelter was refurbished; the playground area was updated; a dog park was constructed, and a 1/3 mile hiking trail was built which traverses the picnic areas and leads into the wooded section of the park.
Renovation/material costs of approximately $210,000 were funded through the Catawba County Parks Trust Fund. Park staff dramatically reduced the overall funding needed, by designing the park, and conducting project management responsibilities.
Staff also contributed the physical labor needed to grade the site, lay gravel, clear and construct the trail, refurbish the parking area, put in the landscaping, and install the bird feeders.
The park reopened to the public on December 12, 2008. A formal grand opening was held October 10, 2009 as part of a celebration commemorating Catawba County Parks 10-year anniversary.