The lake and its park were part of the Commons established by an Act of the Commons House of Assembly in 1768, setting aside the area forever for public use. The tradition that the lake was developed as a small boat harbor for planters apparently has no foundation in fact. Most likely, it served as mill pond for a succession of sawmills which operated in the vicinity.
For many years the lake was known as the Rutledge Street Pond. It acquired the name, Colonial Lake, in 1881, in honor of the "Colonial Commons" established in 1768. Some residents still call it "The Pond."
The park around the lake was developed in 1882-87. Fountains were placed in the lake in 1973, not for decorative purposes, but to aerate the water and prevent fish kills on hot summer days.
"Gala Week" used to be held in the fall of the year, with a fireworks display on the west side of the Pond, which was then an undeveloped area. Spectators filled to park and crowded onto boats in the lake.
Stockton, DYKYC, May 14, 1973. Rhett & Steele, 24-25. Whitelaw & Levkoff, 154-155.