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History of the Nature Park


Between 1917 and 1977, the Nature Park was the site of a limestone quarry, owned and operated by Hanson Aggregates.  Limestone rock in the quarry began forming approximately 350 million years ago from the remains of animals living on the bottom of an inland sea that covered this area.  The layers of remains are the basis of the rock layers observed in the quarry walls.  

With the quarry dormant for decades, Hanson Aggregates generously donated 280 acres of the land and leased the remaining 178 acres to DePauw University for $1 per year for 99 years.  DePauw acquired adjacent property to increase the total size of the Nature Park to 520 acres.  DePauw commissioned Mansur Developers in 2002 to design a Master Plan for possible uses of the Nature Park. DePauw completed Phase I of the Master Plan in 2004 and opened the Nature Park to the public in September 2004.  

The Phase I work included demolition and removal of remaining buildings from the quarry operation, clean-up of debris and fuel spills from storage tanks, improving the driveway and parking, arranging for power and water utilities, installation of water fountains, construction of primitive campsites, improvement of outdoor classrooms, installation of ten miles of trails, and construction of the Amphitheater. 

DePauw completed Phase II of the plan in fall 2005.  The Phase II work included construction of the Manning Environmental Field Station and the Ian and Mimi Rolland Welcome and Activities Center.  Other work included installation of a sanitary sewer system and railings on the Rim Trail.

The Prindle Institute for Ethics was completed in 2007.  The mission of the institute is to enhance teaching, learning, and research in ethics at DePauw.  The Bartlett Reflection Center was completed in 2009.  The Reflection Center is located next to the Prindle Institute within the Nature Park.  Both the Prindle Institute and the Reflection Center received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for their environmentally-friendly and sustainable architectural design.  

For a complete history of the quarry, please click here.