Right down the road from our new Middlebury home, near downtown, is an enchanting place called the Krider World’s Fair Garden. It’s a beautiful place to spend an hour or two, even without knowing the story behind it—but here's the story.
Krider Nurseries was an up-and-coming business early 1900s, and they had big dreams. They created a display garden at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair. From the guest register at that display, they collected over 250,000 names and addresses—and using that list, Krider Nurseries became the biggest mail order nursery in the country. They practically invented the concept!
After the World’s Fair was over, many of the plants and other features were brought back to Middlebury, and the display garden was recreated across the road from the nursery headquarters. It served as a display garden for the retail business.
At Krider’s peak, in the 1940s and 1950s, they employed over 100 people. They obtained the patent for the very first thornless rose, which they named “Festival.” Krider’s shipped plants all over the United States and overseas. But the rise of big box stores in the late 1900s signaled the end of the business. Krider Nurseries closed their doors in 1990, and five years later, the family donated the garden to the Town of Middlebury. It is a popular spot for outdoor weddings.
The map below shows some of the main features of the garden. Those marked with * were part of the 1930s World’s Fair display garden, either originals or reconstructions.
1 - The Dutch windmill *
2 - The quilt garden – one in a series of Elkhart County Quilt Gardens
3 - The toadstools *
4 - The Pergola and sunrise benches *
5 - The lily pond *
6 - The “Garden with a Cause”
7 - The English Tea House *
8 - The goddess of youth statue
9 - Three historical markers
10 - The mill house *
11 - The Krider Garden fountain (1935)
12 - The gazebo (2015)
13 - The rose garden
14 - The pavilion
15 - The rain garden
16 - Restrooms
17 - The historic 158-foot trestle bridge, part of the original Pumpkinvine Railroad and now part of the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail, which runs through the park.
For more on the Krider World’s Fair Garden, check out the Middlebury Parks Department website.
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