Across the road from the school and the visitor center (north and west, respectively), is a Commemorative Garden dedicated to the Little Rock Nine & future students. The garden was designed by Michael R. Warrick (UALR sculpture artist/professor) & Aaron P. Hussey (UALR sculpture graduate, now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana). The garden was dedicated in September 25, 2001. Nine trees and nine benches within the garden symbolize the strength of the Little Rock Nine students and line the winding garden path to the center plaza. The garden offers a place to contemplate the past, present and future. The center circular plaza features the triumphant arches depicting the school‟s architectural features including the four school entrance guardian sculpture figures – Ambition, Personality, Opportunity and Preparation. On the interior faces of the arches display photos of Little Rock Central students past & present. According to the main contributors to the sculpture, Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bruce, the garden sculpture represents the “the Spirit of Central High” and the garden‟s purpose is to “celebrate the ability of people to overcome adversity and to recognize and honor triumph of the collective good over the betterment of a few.”
This nomination recognizes the nine symbolic red maple trees and the pre-existing witness trees, such as the existing persimmon, that were there during the time of the Central High Crisis.
Location: Central High National Historic Site, Little Rock
Registration: February 13, 2009
Species: Oaks, maple, persimmon