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The Rehabilitation of Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park

History of Ball Gardens

On a grassy, open plot of land near the western edge of the IUPUI campus, sits an empty, deteriorated fountain. Apart from a few mature trees, the fountain is the only reminder of a remarkable landscape project that was never fully completed: Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park.

Ball Gardens and Ball Hall Ball Gardens and Ball Hall

Conceived in 1929, the original plans for this 10-acre parcel called for the grandest of landscape designs. There would be lush gardens, serpentine walkways, fountains, and more. With its proximity to the Rotary Convalescent Hospital, the space would offer solitude, fresh air, and exercise to assist in the healing process. It was to be a shining example of what today we call therapeutic greenspace.

Eve 'Flo' has been rehabilitated and currently resides in the Health Information Translational Sciences Building on West 10th Street Eve 'Flo' has been rehabilitated and currently resides in the Health Information Translational Sciences Building on West 10th Street

Included among the National Register of Historic Places, the space represents an example of therapeutic garden design that disappeared during the 20th century. Of equal historic significance, the site's design was guided by the firm founded by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture and designer of New York's Central Park and the grounds for Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition.

Only parts of the project were completed. One section that did come to fruition showed the great potential of therapeutic landscapes. The sunken garden outside Ball Residence Hall became a beloved space for Indiana University student nurses. The nurses' pinning ceremonies and formal graduations took place there until the 1960s, but it was the greenery, the softly dancing waters of the fountain, and the statue of Eve (known to the nursing students as "Flo") that made the garden a respite from the students' demanding, hectic lives.

As time passed, a lack of funds for proper maintenance, and the encroachment of new buildings, parking lots, and campus roadways had a devastating effect.

Architects have completed a full examination of the site and developed a rehabilitation plan that retains the original design concept with adjustments to the existing conditions. While significant challenges remain before Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park can be fully rehabilitated, this new master plan provides for the implementation of the complete plan. Alumni, the schools of nursing, medicine, and dentistry, and the IUPUI chancellor have all committed to providing support to rehabilitate the gardens and park. The time is now at hand to undertake a campaign for the additional financial resources to bring this landscape jewel fully to life.