Architectural Features

Architectural Features at the Grotto Gardens

The Towers

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.
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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.

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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!

Fountains have been installed in both ponds similar to the fountains that used to be there.  Landscape lighting has also been installed highlighting some of the key features in the Grotto.  It is a spectacular view once the sun goes down.

The Boathouse is where boat rides on the McPherson originally were offered.  It is also sometimes called the swan house.  Swans lived under the Boathouse until the 1950s.   View more images of the Ponds and other water features HERE.



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