The Ball Brothers Foundation's "Maplewood" mansion will be up for lease after glassmaking company Ardagh Group relocates to Fishers. DN PHOTO REBECCA KIZER
Ball brothers' historic 'Maplewood' mansion to be up for lease
One of the historic Ball mansions, found around the Minnetrista area near campus, will soon be up for lease after the glassmaking company Ardagh Group relocates to Fishers.
Since 1982, the Ball Brothers Foundation has been leasing “Maplewood,” the William C. and Emma Ball Home, to companies to use for multiple purposes, in some cases as a guesthouse.
Ardagh Group recently announced it will be leaving the building and relocating its headquarters and 200 employees from the Ball mansion.
Since they came to Muncie in 1885, the Ball family generously and continuously invested in the surrounding community and contributed to the growth of its culture, according to bsu.edu. By 1937, the monetary value of the Balls' philanthropies, most of which were concentrated in Muncie, was estimated at around $7 million. Locally, their generosity focused on the YMCA, Camp Crosley, Ball State University, Ball Memorial Hospital, the Masonic Temple, the American Legion and the Minnetrista Cultural Center and golf course.
Since this announcement, there has been confusion as to what the future holds for “Maplewood,” but Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of the Ball Brothers Foundation, said there is no reason for the stress, as nothing has actually changed.
“I have had a lot of calls from people who had misinformation, and they thought the house has been sold and things like that,” Fisher said. “It’s in the same ownership it has been in for years with the foundation. In reality, it’s just simply a company leaving our area."
But the foundation will "have to come up with a new plan" and find another use for the large historic building, or it could sit unused.
The Ball Brothers Foundation has said there is a possibility in leasing or donating the mansion to Ball State University, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital or others.
But Fisher said as of right now, the building is still being leased by Ardagh, and there is no pressure or deadline to finding a new company to lease the building in the future.
“We own it, so there is no reason for a deadline or anything,” Fisher said. “There is no pressure or anything else. We are just trying to figure out what the best use in the future could be to lease it to someone great.”
The area is surrounded by several mansions, now owned and used by different people and for different uses.
The Ball family had five brothers and two sisters, and their legacy lives on through the family homes, known as the Ball mansions, that line the street surrounded by gardens along the White River near the Minnetrista Cultural Center.
On each side of “Maplewood” sits “Oakhurst” and “Nebosham,” also known as the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center.
Built in 1894, “Oakhurst” was home to George A. and Frances Ball. The two had a daughter named Elisabeth who developed the gardens surrounding the home in the 1930s.
The area was later restored when taken over by the Minnetrista Cultural Center.
Today, “Oakhurst” is open for tours and features the Country Garden, Sunken Garden, Formal Garden and Oakhurst Woodland, where tourists can experience the home’s garden features that have survived more than 100 years.
“Nebosham” has been a Muncie landmark since it was completed in 1907 by E.B. and Bertha C. Ball.
After Bertha's death in 1957, the house remained unused until 1963, when it was leased to Ball State University, according to the university's website.
In 1975, the Ball Brothers Foundation gave the property to the Ball State University Foundation for use by Ball State University as a continuing education facility.
In 1986, the building was renamed the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center for University and Community Programs and is currently used to serve the university and the public.
Another building is the “L.L. Ball House.”
The home was occupied by Lucius Ball, his wife Sarah Rogers and their only child, Helen. Lucius, the oldest brother, had gone to medical school after his younger brothers were established in a productive business, according to fruitjar.org.
Lucius practiced medicine in Muncie and was the medical officer for the Ball brothers.
The "L.L. Ball House" was later used to be rented out to families until the early 1970s, when it was leased to Ball State University. The university housed the WIPB television studio there, where known painter Bob Ross filmed "The Joy of Painting."
The “L.L. Ball House” is now used for offices and classrooms.
While the other homes of the the Ball family do not expect any changes in the near future, Fisher said the foundation is committed to ensuring “Maplewood” will continue to be in good hands.
“Ball Brothers Foundation is committed to prudent financial management of all of our assets, including this real estate, and our board continues to consider a number of possibilities for the property moving forward,” Fisher said. “As a family foundation with a 90-year history, our focus remains, simply, on one thing: effectively managing and utilizing our assets to improve the quality of life in Muncie, Delaware County and Indiana.”