The newly renovated Clinic Gardens are going to be finished soon so it’s the perfect time to learn about the history of how it came to be and how it used to look!
The Clinic Gardens started out as an empty space between two buildings on campus and their first idea was to put up tennis courts for the students to use. They built them to “championship specifications” as B.J. says in his book The Bigness of the Fellow Within. That area was only used as tennis courts for a couple of years until tennis wasn’t as popular anymore, and that’s when they dug the courts up and started putting in plants and flowers, including around 600 rose bushes and added the pools & fountains and the various other objects and historical items. And, B.J. being the animal lover that he was, they even added goldfish to the pools! After all of that was assembled, it was used as a space for patients of the clinic to relax in, heal in, and enjoy.
The fountains was basically the centerpiece of the Gardens, and they were created using glacial boulders that came all the way from Des Moines, Iowa from the Chase Mansion that B.J. purchased. The boulders had been part of a shrine that the previous mansion owners had in their yard, and B.J. loved their natural look so much that he had them transported to Davenport even though some of the rocks weighed 5 tons on their own!
There were a lot of historically relevant items in the Clinic Gardens when it was first created, even a sun dial made from World War I shells! The new space will also still house the pirate ship anchor that came from Cabrillo, a pirate ship from the Spanish Main on the Pacific Coast and it is made from hammered wrought iron. Another item you can still see is the Torii at the north end of the Gardens that was originally used as an ambulance entrance to get to the Clinic. A Torii is found in Japan at the entrance of all sacred places and is supposed to symbolize good fortune to anyone who passes under it.
We are so excited that Palmer is rebuilding the Clinic Gardens with the history in mind! Follow Palmer on social media to get updates on the campus improvements, and to find out when it’s finished!