Friday, February 11, 2011

#127: Battel Park

You have to understand... I'm not one of those wimpy its-below-freezing boo-hoo type of people.  I don't get scared of three inches of snow on the road or two months straight of below-freezing temperatures.  I love winter.  I love snow.  Heck, I love wearing coats and scarfs and mittens - the whole thang.  I can handle cold, wind, snow, and basically any unholy combination of it (which we affectionately called "wintry mix").  And I like to think that we, Midwesterners, are tough and hardy people because of our winter....but jeeze, it's really really cold right now.

So this is for you, chilly reader, wearing glittens as you type on your laptop - and for me, looking forward to spring for the first time this winter.

Sometime in the middle of last fall, on an especially leisurely Saturday afternoon, I wandered around Mishawaka's oldest park, Battell Park.  In just a couple hours strolling around, I felt like I had walked through decades of Mishawaka history.  This 11 acre piece of land has had many faces since 1880, when it was first established as a city park.  Four years after its park designation, a 32-foot tall Soldier's Memorial featuring a 8-foot tall bronze Civil War solider was added to the original elements of the park, which included a wooden fence, rustic bridge, and a handful of planted trees. 
The real transformation of this land on the north bank of the St. Joe River occurred during the 1920s and 30s.  In 1927, the impressive Neoclassical bandshell complete with ornate cooper roof and griffins was constructed.  Hopefully, we'll be able to post about some of the summer concerts and performances that take place here.

Then later during the early 1930s, the Works Progress Administration built the mind-blowingly awesome 5-tiered rock garden that leads from the green space of the park down to the river. The various elements of this rock garden were finished just a couple years later in 1937, but it will take you ages to wander around the calm pools of water and wonder at the stone waterfall.

Since the Depression-era, a number of new elements have been added, changed, or rebuilt in the park.  Tennis courts, a play ground, a basketball court, and a fun-looking water works "splashpad" thing added a sports and recreation feel to the park.  The Shiorjiri Garden, on the other hand, offers a Japanese zen haven right in the middle of the park.  In recent history, Battel Park has also been linked up to the Riverwalk trails that connect almost all of the area's river front.

Location: 301 West Mishawaka Avenue, north side of the River north to Mishawaka Avenue, Forest Avenue on the west and at the end of Ann Street on the east
Tip: Bring a camera.  This park will make anyone feel like an amateur photographer.

Hopefully, these images of a 67 degree day in late September will warm you up even for just a moment and remind you that not even a windchill of -25 degrees can keep spring away forever.

1 comment:

  1. These photos are absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to visit the park & especially can't wait to see the rock garden. Thank you for the reminder about warmer days to come. I love what you are doing for South Bend. Thank you!