The State of Indiana, in the 1827 legislative session, designated this land as property for a state university. However, that idea never came to fruition. Twenty-five years later, campus buildings were constructed for a seminary. The seminary used this site for a mere eight years, from 1852 to 1860. Once vacated, this site was used to prepare Union troops for a confrontation with the Morgan’s Raiders during the Civil War.
The people of Indianapolis raised funds to transform this land into a park once the Civil War was over. Its center features a Richard J. Depew fountain that was built in 1919. There are five levels to the fountain. The different tiers are decorated with bronze fish, children playing, frogs and a woman draped in a toga.
A sculpture of President Benjamin Harrison, Indiana's only president, stands on the south center edge of the park, with statues of Abraham Lincoln at the southeast corner and Schuyler Colfax, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant, in the east center portion of the park. Additional statuary includes Syrinx, the wood nymph on the east side of the fountain listening to the music that Pan, the satyr, is playing on the west side of the fountain.
University Park is a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation of historic site recognized by the federal government.