Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ball Brothers Community Gardens and Canning Center

In 1947, the makers of the iconic Ball canning jar, the Ball Brothers Company, hired local architects Hamilton & Graham to design a community canning center at their factory campus in Muncie, Indiana. The design was a simple, single story structure reminiscent of a military-style Quonset hut. The interior, however, was anything but simple. A complex of functional work stations built to accommodate specific tasks involved in canning--sorting, chopping, peeling, packing, scalding, steaming--fill the space and allow canners to migrate from sinks to tables in a logical work flow. Popular Midwestern produce such as tomatoes, green beans, and peaches are given distinct work areas and machines, as well as defined storage areas for the finished jars.

To assist with community members having enough produce to can at the new facility, the Ball Brothers Company also dedicated a significant area of land at the southern edge of their extensive factory. Over 100 garden plots are designated near the oil tank and coal pile near the railroad tracks that run through the property. The two site plans below depict the entire property and the layout of the garden plots.

Images: Ball Brothers Community Canning Center and Garden Plots, 1947-1948. Hamilton & Graham Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Ball State University.