Terradise is a word coined by Ray Romine to express finding “Heaven on Earth” in the eighteen acres that he and his wife Trella (Hemmerly Haldeman) purchased from Marie Thomas in 1952. It had been a gift to her from her husband, Dr. Frank Thomas, who purchased it from Dr. Frederick Stengel in 1941. Originally a part of the extensive holdings of the Thew and Brocklesby families, it was an odd-shaped piece of land that had never been developed and contained virgin trees and vegetation. Ray lived only a year at Terradise when he died in August 1954.
Trella learned that it was one of the few areas where the river was accessible from the road, so it had been used as common fishing ground. She felt that once again it should be approachable by the public and preserved for future generations to enjoy. The Marion County Park District was established in 1998 to receive as a gift from Trella and her children, Kathi and David Haldeman, the twelve acres on the left bank of the Whetstone River. Trella retained the six acres where she and Ray built their home in 1953. On her passing in February of 2013, her son David Haldeman continues the tradition of welcoming guests to tour the gardens at the annual Open Garden on the last Sunday in April or by appointment through the year. Terradise is now available on AirBnB for overnight stays with full use of the parkland and extensive library. The home is now the centerpiece of the Terradise Nature Center, Inc., an Ohio Non-Profit Corporation for educational and research purposes, open by appointment only. The Center offers programs on local nature topics throughout the year. See Events Page for details.
Most of the Nature Preserve area is on the flood plain. The ox-bow of a former river channel is replenished by floods and is home to nesting wood ducks. Over 100 species of birds have been identified at Terradise. These include Carolina chickadees, woodpeckers (downy, hairy and red bellied) tufted titmice, white breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays, juncos and doves. Many of these ten “regulars” can be spotted from the shelter house by the parking lot. The spring migration in early May is when the most species can be seen.