(Brian Hubbard on Flickr)
The Krider “World’s Fair” Garden in Middlebury, a small suburb of Elkhart, is hailed “the crown jewel” of the town’s park system with good reason. Its bucolic, manicured collection of ponds, fountains, and waterfalls would be the centerpiece of any hamlet, and many larger cities as well. But Krider Gardens offers something more –- a unique backstory and the biggest mushrooms you’re ever likely to see.
The park owes its existence to local man Vernon Krider, whose green thumb and shrewd business sense grew a modest horticultural concern into a juggernaut. For almost a century, Krider Nurseries was the chief industry in Middlebury.
From 1896 to 1990, Middlebury’s Krider Nurseries did a thriving mail order business -- so thriving, in fact, that the town’s post office was actually enlarged to accommodate it. In 1933, the company constructed an elaborate garden at Chicago’s Century of Progress exhibition (gaining them around 200,000 new mail-order customers). Not wanting to sacrifice its investment when the exhibition closed, Krider subsequently transported much of the garden display back home to Middlebury. Today, the reconstructed garden now serves as a community park. Now 80 years old, the park recently underwent a number of rejuvenating projects by the Town of Middlebury.
(Brian Hubbard on Flickr)
Indianapolis native Evan Finch, never a man to let his day job as a successful advertising copywriter get in the way of his true passion -- visiting, pondering and chronicling offbeat Hoosier landmarks -– says this of Krider Gardens: “There was a nice assortment of plants, and I remember the windmill. But honestly, I only had eyes for the giant fungus.”
On Thursday, May 1, the delightfully erudite Mr. Finch will give a talk at Indiana Landmarks Center entitled “You Call That a Landmark?” during which he will highlight many of his favorite unconventional Indiana attractions.
“You Call That a Landmark?” begins at 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. cash bar and snacks). The talk is free, but please R.S.V.P. at https://evanfinchtalk.eventbrite.com, or call 317-639-4534.
The Krider "World’s Fair" Garden is located on Middlebury’s Bristol Street just west of the fire station, across the street from the Middlebury Historical Society Museum and adjacent to the Greenway Park. It is open every day from sunup to sundown.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.