Architectural Features at the Grotto Gardens
The twin towers are the centerpiece of the Grotto landscape at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, a National Historic Landmark in Dayton, Ohio. Congress established the system of National Asylums for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and legislation was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1865. The Central Branch, also known as the National Soldiers Home, opened in Dayton in 1867. View all the images of the Tower HERE.
The Grottos & Natural Springs
The three Grottos at the Gardens are an interesting feature that includes man-made architectural “grottos” built around natural springs. There are two natural springs in the Gardens that flow freely from the hillside adjacent to the Towers, and from the wall framing the Thomas B. Van Horn Memorial Natural Springs Garden. Although there is not much recorded history about the Grottos themselves, one can assume that the 19th century practice of utilizing the minerals from natural springs for their healing properties was in part a reason for these gardens at the original Soldier’s Home. View all the images of the Grottos and Natural Springs HERE.
The Ponds and Fountain
Originally, the “lakes” kept a miniature version of the man-of -war ship the Garfield anchored there, and a central fountain was at the center of the large pond. There was also an aviary, a deer park, and alligators in one of the adjacent ponds!
Plans are underway, designs being drawn and plants researched for additional gardens at the Grotto. Gardens are planned for the Boathouse, the area above the upper walkway (above the arch) and between the ponds. Almost 3500 bulbs were planted by countless OSU Master Gardener Volunteers, VA Volunteers and a LexisNexis service group in October. We expect a spectacular riot of color in the spring. There will be a fountain installed in the large pond in the summer of 2015. View more images of the Ponds and other water features HERE.