Historical Holliday Park a Labor of Love

Historical Holliday Park is a gem! The park is a literal breath of fresh air right in the middle of the city. Visitors can hike trails, explore the wetlands, as well as keep an eye out for many different kinds of flowers, trees, birds, and other animals. On the other hand, history buffs can enjoy reading about ‘The Ruins’, a gift from New York City.

 As soon as we walked onto the grounds, we were in awe. ‘The Ruins’ remind us of a trip to Greece or Rome, making us feel like we were in some ancient gardens. Beautiful and colorful flowers line the sidewalks that lead up to the structure. We were instantly curious.

John and Evaline Holliday donated the park to Indianapolis in 1916, Indiana’s centennial year. The couple wanted others to enjoy the beauty of nature and have a space for recreation. Today, there is a wide open green space with walking trails, ravines, wooden stair walkways, and lots more to enjoy. Near ‘The Ruins’ is a fountain as well as a water play area for children. The vision John and Evaline had when they gifted their land to the city created not only a space for people to enjoy but an opportunity to pay it forward.

‘Three Races of Man’ sculpted by Karl T. Bitter

Before the Hollidays ever gave their land to the city of Indianapolis, a part of the park’s rich story was unfolding in New York City. The Saint Paul was one of the city’s first skyscrapers. It was built in 1898. The facade featured a sculpture of three men appearing to hold up the building. The statues represented African-American, Asian, and Caucasian races working together. It was simply called “Three Races of Man”. The sculptor, Karl T. Bitter, carved them out of Indiana limestone. In 1950, when Western Electric Company decided to update the building, they held a contest. The prize, a portion of the bulding and several statues, went to Indianapolis.  By 1979, the plan came to fruition. However, without proper care, the park deteriorated and, in the years that followed, it was eventually fenced off and shut down. 

Beautiful and Intricate designs 

In 1994, the ‘Friends of Holliday Park’ began a campaign to restore the park. Though the community did not readily embrace the idea, the ‘Friends’ finally got approval. The park was restored in time for Indiana’s Bicentennial. It’s an interesting story. Thankfully, members of the community volunteered not only to restore the park but to keep it up.  In fact, the day we were visiting, several ‘Friends’ were there. They cheerfully worked on weeding flowerbeds, picking up garbage, and doing general cleaning jobs. We took the time to let them know that we appreciate the beautiful landscape they have created for our enjoyment. They were so proud. 

What a pleasant surprise! We love Holliday Park. It is delightful. My husband and I walked hand-in-hand while our daughter explored the grounds. She played games and discovered some history she is currently studying in school. We enjoyed our Labor Day visit so much that we went back a week later to hike the trails. We will certainly visit this park again and again. My husband took both the first and last photos of ‘The Ruins’. I enjoyed seeing the park through his perspective. You can find out more about Holliday Park by visiting their website here or go to the park and get your own perspective.