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The Rehabilitation of Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park

Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park

The Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden and Convalescent Park is comprised of three gardens: the Ball Nurses' Sunken Garden, the Convalescent Park, and the Rotary Convalescent Hospital Forecourt.

For many years, the Nurses' Sunken Garden provided the nurses living in Ball Hall with a quiet place for reflection, a destination for fun on the many occasions when they decorated "Flo," as well as the location of Nursing pinning and graduation ceremonies.


Nursing pinning ceremony, 1959

Nursing pinning ceremony, 1959

Percival Gallagher, principal landscape architect for The Olmsted Brothers, incorporated his belief that the nurses needed their own romantic, special garden where they could feel as if they were "at home" in a residential setting. Similarly, he believed that patients, families, and staff should be able to enjoy the restorative power of nature in a pastoral, passive park with curvilinear paths in the adjacent Convalescent Park. Gallagher successfully knit together two radically different styles of design - Renaissance garden design grafted on to each end of a prototypical pastoral park. Placing the informal, pastoral, open space of the Convalescent Park between the two geometrical garden spaces of the Nurses' Sunken Garden and the Rotary Convalescent Hospital forecourt was unknown at that time.

The scale of the garden and its location north of the Ball Residence with its outdoor porches reflect the designer's attempts to provide an exterior lawn and garden as "carefully scaled outdoor rooms," the antidote to the residential building mass. A pergola was designed to provide an overhead plane to enclose and enframe the view from the Nurses' central lobby to the Rotary Convalescent Hospital and to provide an architectural garden element for shade and for visual effect, but was never implemented.