History of Terradise Nature Center

Ray and Trella

Terradise is a word coined by Ray Romine to express finding “heaven on earth” in the 18 acres that he and his wife Trella purchased from Marie Thomas in 1952. It had been a gift from Marie’s husband, Dr. Frank Thomas, who purchased it from Dr. Frederick Stengel in 1941. It was an odd-shaped piece of land that had never been developed and contained virgin trees and an abundance of wildflowers.

This property did well in fulfilling Trella’s dream of living “on a hill, by a river, in a woods,” and to Ray it meant a place to chase butterflies, hybridize iris and a source of inspiration for his verses.

Ray and Trella Romine 1953
Ray and Trella Romine 1953
Hindmans, Fields, Brocklesby

Terradise Builds a Community

Trella learned from Frank Fields that generations of Claridon Township residents had used it as a favorite fishing and picnic spot because it was one of the few areas where the river was accessible from the road. She wanted to preserve this pristine area, mostly river bottom-land, for the benefit of those who love the out-of-doors.

The lane now leading to the river was originally the Marion-Williamsport Road that forded the river at the bend. Men on horseback and in wagons crossed easily, but when the 1913 flood altered the course of the river, and automobiles were becoming common, the ford became impassible and the road was abandoned.

Terradise Houses a Family

With Trella’s two children, David and Kathy Haldeman, the family planned their house to fit the site. Day by day their project came together leading to move to day, September 1, 1953.

With the strike of great tragedy, Ray Romine passed just a year later in August of 1954.

Trella took great care of the house, land and name of Terradise. She promoted the wellness of biodiversity and introduced many wildflowers and woody-plants to the grounds.

Boundary Oak at Lincoln's Birthplace, Kentucky August 1956
Boundary Oak at Lincoln's Birthplace, Kentucky August 1956

Creating a Legacy

In 1988, Trella requested the Probate Court establish the Marion County Parks District. Then she donated 12 acres on the left bank of the Whetstone River (Olentangy) as a gift from her and her children Kathi Sands and David Haldeman. She retained the six acres where she and Ray built their home in 1953.

In 1990, Terradise was recognized as an “Ohio Natural Landmark,” an oustanding environmental education area and an area that possesses exceptional value in illustrating and interpreting the natural heritage of Ohio.

On her passing in February of 2013, Trella’s son David Haldeman continued the tradition of welcoming guests to tour the property at the annual Open Garden. Further, David converted his childhood home into a non-profit organization with the purpose of “education, research and conserving Ohio’s natural heritage and resources” in 2018.