House O’ Dreams ponds being restored, history enlivened

Katie Ott Reporter

Hannah Clark Editor 

Berry students and the Alumni Association are in the process of restoring newly discovered ponds at the House O’ Dreams.

The House O’ Dreams is a house that was built for Martha Berry and is located on Berry’s Mountain Campus. The ponds were initially discovered when Berry built a fire break at the House O’ Dreams during a drought in 2007. 

The site includes three ponds, a raised amphitheater area, stone stove, meat cooler and stone wall. The ponds are in a secluded area off the main road leading up to the House O’ Dreams. 

In 2010, the Alumni Association began the restoration process at the pond site during Berry’s Alumni Work Week. During Berry’s Alumni Work Week, alumni come back to Berry to help with various projects around campus. 

The group assigned to restoring the ponds originally worked on clearing out the branches and overgrown plants in the area. The year after the pond restoration began, there was a big storm that caused a lot of damage on main campus. After the storm, most of the alumni spent their time helping repair those damages.

 Because of the storm, other projects ended up taking priority to the restorations, which caused the pond restoration project to be put off until this year. 

Greg Mason, head caretaker at the House O’ Dreams, said there is a lot of work that needs to be done before the area with the ponds is functional and open for recreational use. Mason said the entire area needs to be cleared of all the debris and fallen branches, the ponds need to be dug out and the wall of the first pond needs to be fixed. Mason said that once the site has been cleared out, Berry plans on making a woodchip pathway down to the ponds.

 Mason said the three ponds are located in a row so that whenever the water from the stream filled up the first pond, the excess water would flow into the pond below.

“So, over a hundred years, the debris from the trees and everything piled up,” Mason said.  “So, we’ll just clean all that up with a backhoe and make it deeper.” 

Berry alumnus, Joe Ragsdale, was one of the first alumni that worked on the original project back in 2010. He said that they hope to dig out the ponds so they can make them look like they did before the storm. 

After the restoration process is done, the area will be open to the public through the House O’ Dreams. Ragsdale said that they would like to get the ponds to look like Swan Lake, a popular visiting site up on Mountain Campus. 

“If we could get those ponds to look like those that would be a real goal, and maybe put a couple picnic tables down there,” Ragsdale said.

Once the ponds are restored, Berry students will have the opportunity to come up and visit the ponds, and possibly have class at the site. 

Brian Campbell, an associate professor of anthropology and environmental studies, first learned about the ponds through Mason. Campbell said that he was very interested in the site since it was once used by Martha Berry. 

Campbell will be holding the first class session at the ponds in April with his environmental science class. Campbell said he hopes that his students will be able to enjoy the historic site and understand the importance of spending time in nature. 

“It will be cool to reclaim a landscape that Martha Berry used for education and recreation, and make it available to current and future Berry students,” Campbell said.  “It brings some of history alive and emphasizes the connection and reverence that Martha Berry had for the natural world.” 

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