With a backdrop
of blossoming tulip trees, flowering dogwoods and showy daffodils the Brinka-Cross
Gardens proved the ideal setting for this week’s meeting of Porter County
Park and Recreation Board.
As rain dampened
the area, the board was treated to power point presentation of an
consultant’s plan to restore the once neglected 36 acre Furnessville
property to its intended purpose as a “horticultural work of art. “
Thursday’s discussion, board president Richard Hudson recalled a similar
meeting two years ago when the board first met to discuss the future of the
“As I recall,”
said Hudson, “it was raining that night also and we never thought then that
it would look anything like it does today.”
By the time the
county purchased the property it had been long neglected and invaded by
weeds and fallen branches, the overgrown vegetation hid the once artistic
gardens and exotic plants created nearly 50 years ago by a now deceased art
Chuck Lehman of
the Mishawaka architectural landscape firm Lehman and Lehman, said, “Thanks
to your efforts and the work of the many volunteers, staff and others the
site’s original beauty is being discovered.”
The park board
purchased the Pine Township property near Furnessville in 2007. At the time
many felt the property held promise for the future and could someday become
a regional tourist destination. With this goal in mind the board hired
Lehman to develop a master plan to help meet that goal.
Porter County Parks Superintendent noted an 8 foot sign was recently erected
acclaiming the park as a place to visit. Previously there was nothing
indicating what the property was, who owned it, or what it contained.
“The sign will
attract those driving by and they will be called to come in and see what the
park is becoming and what it will be,” said Lenckos.
plans call for adding many modern amenities Lehman explained the plan will
not detract from the designer’s intention, the property be “a place that
uses gardens as both art and educational experiences. It will still be a
place for people to see the art and learn from the experience,” said Lenckos.
research and property cleanup, or what Lehman terms “garden archeological
recovery” has uncovered 11 distinct gardens along with a wide variety of
plants and flowers unique to the region.
peeling back the layers of an onion; each layer presents something new that
was hidden,” Lehman said.
Lehman said the
site has over 400 different species of hostas, 10,000 daffodils, and 25
different types of grasses.
completing the entire project are estimated to be under $3 million which
includes the cost of restoring a Frank Lloyd Wright influenced house
situated in the center of the property.
Lehman told the
Chesterton Tribune that many of Brincka’s other artistic creations
and collections are currently on display at a Michigan City museum. He hopes
someday these can be returned and be on display in their original setting of
the Brinka-Cross home.
Lehman does not
take credit for coming up with the plan; he attributes it to a combination
of work and suggestions from the park board members as well as input and
support from neighbors and Friends of the Park
Lehman said “I see this area becoming the County Park’s Crown Jewel.”