By Christopher Baas, Professor of Landscape Architecture

Professors from Ball State University and Hanover College teamed up recently to document the landscape and remains of Eleutherian College, the first college in Indiana to admit Black students, and a hub of activity in the abolitionist movement. The project won honorable mention in the 2021 HALS Challenge to document historic Black landscapes.

Participating BSU professors were Dorna Eshrati, Jeremy Merrill, Pete Ellery, Malcolm Cairns, and Christopher Baas from the Department of Landscape Architecture and J.P. Hall from the Department of Architecture. Darrin Rubino from the Hanover Biology Department and Sean O’Neill from the Department of Classical Studies rounded out the team.


The home of Lyman and Asenath Hoyt at Eleutherian College campus in Lancaster, Ind.  The Hoyts were members in the Neil’s Creek Anti-Slavery Society, active in the region’s Underground Railroad activities, and early leaders of Eleutherian College. The stone house was constructed in 1848. (Christopher Baas, March 2021).


The researchers documented Eleutherian College in Lancaster, Ind., the first Hoosier college to admit students without regard to race or gender. The historic campus was constructed beginning in 1846, and the monumental stone Classroom and Chapel Building was finished in 1856. The home of abolitionists and college supporters Lyman and Asenath Hoyt, and neighboring College Hill Cemetery, were also recorded. The team’s documentation of the college includes drone generated topographic data by Dr. Ellery, tree-ring analysis the identified construction dates for the campus’ buildings by Dr. Rubino, and archaeological investigations by Dr. O’Neill.

 Graves at Eleutherian College.

The Historic American Landscape Survey, more commonly known as “HALS,” is a Nation Park Service program that documents historic cultural landscapes through text, photographs, and drawings. To promote the program, the park service sponsors an annual challenge to assemble HALS documentation based on a theme that changes each year. HALS documents submitted to the Challenge and accepted by the Park Service are archived in the Library of Congress.

For more information:

HALS Challenge 2021, Black Landscapes

HALS Challenge 2022, Olmsted Landscapes