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Resurrecting the Ruins

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The dreariness of Holliday Park's ruins isn't as punctuated during the stark, gray days of winter. But by late spring when everything greens up and the park comes to life with new birdsong, barking dogs and countless visitors throughout, it's hard to miss the tangled weedy vines and foreboding wrought-iron fence surrounding the famous local landmark.

The ruins are a wonderful work of art that sits actually, well ... in ruins. But they have an incredible potential to be brought back to their full grandeur and to become more a part of the park, and part of the visitors' experience. That potential will soon be a reality.

The mark of an artist is not the level of impact his or her work makes during a lifetime, but the impression the work creates long after the artist is gone. And in Indianapolis, landscape architect Eric Fulford's legacy is being carried on after death by his design for Holliday Park's ruins renovation.

A planned children’s water table will feature a gentle cascade flowing over a low granite table embedded with bronze medallions of creatures found in the White River. - COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF HOLLIDAY PARK
  • Courtesy of Friends of Holliday Park
  • A planned children’s water table will feature a gentle cascade flowing over a low granite table embedded with bronze medallions of creatures found in the White River.

Fulford, who died Sept. 12, 2013, created the renovation plans, along with his wife, Ann Reed, as a labor of love, said Lisa Hurst, board member of Friends of Holliday Park. 

"It was a project he wanted to see completed," Hurst said, "and it got us to within 90 percent of our total project in design."

Hurst, and fellow board member and cochair Sarah Kunz, said that even though Fulford is gone, the project is not in jeopardy. Remenschneider Associates, a local landscape architecture firm, and the Smock-Fansler Corporation, a construction company in town, both worked with Fulford in the past, and he recommended them specifically to carry on his plans upon his death.

Ken Remenschneider, president of Remenschneider Associates, and Tom Fansler III, president of Smock-Fansler, both had worked with Fulford and were inspired by his remarkable skills in landscape architecture.

Both companies were brought into the planning phase of the ruin's renovations so they could continue Fulford's vision from the earliest stages on.

"We don't really see major challenges," Remenschneider said. "The design intent will be carried through, and we will work with the Friends of Holliday Park to see that what is built is durable and lasting, and will carry the original design."

The Friends of Holliday Park are currently working with Smock-Fansler to finalize costs of the renovation, according to Hurst. She added the only reasons for any modifications to Fulford's designs would be in an effort to cut costs or ensure the utmost safety.

The fundraising campaign currently underway by the Friends of Holliday Park aims to raise $3.2 million to cover the ruin's renovations and those of the park's exhibit hall, as well as to create an endowment that will ensure proper maintenance of both.

Eric Fulford's plans call for a geyser fountain and meadow garden on the west side of the ruins. - HOLLIDAYPARK.ORG
  • hollidaypark.org
  • Eric Fulford's plans call for a geyser fountain and meadow garden on the west side of the ruins.

With $450,000 left to reach their goal, Hurst and Kunz agreed that they hope to have fundraising completed by the beginning of summer so construction can start as soon as possible.

"We are in the process of developing a match fund, for a public matching challenge," Hurst said.  "It will be launched in April, which we hope will bring us very near to finishing off our campaign."

They believe the renovations will make a significantly positive impact on the park.

"Eric's design welcomes people to the park," Kunz said. "I think people are so used to looking at the ruins from behind a fence, that they can't imagine what it's going to be like to be able to use them and use that huge part of the park."

"We know this design is going to change the way the park operates," Hurst said. "We are so excited to start construction, we can taste it."

Fulford's designs include green space and a shallow wading pool around the ruins, designed to draw visitors to the site. The resurrected ruins will finally be a part of everyone's complete park experience. And at last, Eric Fulford's vision will be made a reality.

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