Peace Mall History

Central College began renovations to the Peace Mall in Spring 2019, the first significant changes to campus since the pond was finished in 1964.

In 1963, the college “wanted to make the campus more distinguished,” according to then Central President Don Lubbers. An architectural firm in Des Moines developed the idea for a pond in the middle of campus. To make it possible, the college purchased Peace Street from Broadway to West Third Street from the City of Pella.

The Peace Mall now includes an amphitheater, walkways and a history garden to celebrate the college’s veterans and many significant moments and meaningful themes in Central history.

Several components of the history garden have been completed, including a resilience marker and a veterans marker that honors those from the Central family who have served our country in the armed forces. Additional planned markers in the garden will commemorate important historical moments in the college’s history, sharing a cohesive story about the college throughout the garden. Work on this project will continue until all funding is in place.

The project was designed by RDG Planning and Design of Des Moines with input from project lead donors; college leaders; Lori Witt, associate professor of history; and Brian Roberts, professor of art. The project is 100% donor-funded.

The history garden was inspired by Tom Gaard ’61 and his passion for history and his desire “to both honor veterans and enhance the campus aesthetics.” In addition to philanthropic support from Gaard and his wife Barb, other donors to the project include Wallace “Spencer” Stepenske ’64, Steve De Cook ’65 and his wife JoAnn, members of the Board of Trustees in honor of board chair emeritus Lanny Little ’74, the Class of 2018, gifts from estates and anonymous donors.

The history garden celebrates significant moments in the college’s history and the values at the core of its culture. There are 14 garden markers planned for the site, each commemorating an important milestone in the college’s past and principles fundamental to its future.