Reinventing South Bend’s Historic Spaces

An elaborate wrought-iron gate frames the entrance to City Cemetery at 211 Elm Street, where a newly poured parking lot sits in stark contrast to the property’s nearly 200-year-old threshold 

Undergoing a multi-year redevelopmentCity Cemetery is just one of South Bend’s many historic public spaces slated for revitalization, thanks to local community advocates and the city’s My South Bend Parks & Trails initiative. 

“After many years of not getting attention, the City seems to have adopted a renewed interest in the preservation of our historic sites, mainly public spaces,” Venues Parks & Arts Project Manager Patrick Sherman said. “Their revitalization carries a two-fold benefit: preserving their broader historical significance to our region, while having an immediate local impact by providing usable green and public spaces to our residents.” 

 

City Cemetery 

The South Bend City Cemetery, established in 1832, is the city’s oldest burial site. It houses 14,800 plots where notable citizens-of-old including former United States Vice president Schuleyor Colfax, and members of South Bend’s first prominent African American family, the Powells, are laid to rest. 

The cemetery’s redevelopment plan includes a new oval-shaped lawn space, a reimagined entryway plaza that complements the cemetery gate’s decorative design, and the new visitor parking lot. 

 

Leeper Park 

Bracing the St. Joseph River’s south bank and halved by North Michigan Street, Leeper Park’s eastern and western green spaces are home to a centenarian rose garden and the newly restored Studebaker Electric Fountain, respectively. 

Local advocate Vicki McIntire recently organized a committee to restore and relocate South Bend’s iconic Studebaker Electric Fountain to Leeper Park West, located about two miles north of Howard Park – the fountain’s original home from 1906 until its World War II-prompted dismantling in 1941. 

Larry Clifford, leader of the Resurrect the Rose initiative, actively motivates a group of volunteers to maintain the rose garden at Leeper Park East. The rose garden has a history more than 100 years old that was reinvigorated in 2015 with the planting of 100 new rose bushes. 

 

Erskine Golf Clubhouse 

Erskine Golf Course and Clubhouse has been a longstanding tradition in South Bend since its inception in 1925.  With the land donated by Albert Erskine, president of Studebaker Corporation, the City of South Bend built Erskine Golf Course and Clubhouse in 1925.  

For many years, the clubhouse saw a variety of gatherings, weddings and reunions. It was eventually changed over to run the pro shop and concession. Tony Stearns, Director of Golf, wanted to see the restoration bring back the clubhouse to its glory days of events.  

With renovations complete, the Erskine Golf Clubhouse has been restored to its former glory. The event space is open to the public and available to rent. For more information, call the clubhouse at 574-291-3216. 

 

The Granada  

Tucked inside the lower level of the Morris Performing Arts Center, the Granada is a swanky space with a style rooted in the great age of theater. Inspired by its 1927 heritage, this downtown South Bend destination nods to the once popular Granada Theater which stood across from the Morris until 1971. Lined in gold and lavish leather seating, the newly renovated space offers a truly unique experience. For more information on The Granada, visit morriscenter.org. 

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Residents and visitors can find more information on the improvements coming to these and other public spaces around South Bend by visiting www.mysbparksandtrails.com.