The Sunken Gardens was constructed during the winter of 1930-31 in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the only garden in Nebraska listed in the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens 300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada.
Charles Bartlett Hester was in charge of the construction which was a project for unemployed men during the depression. Parts of the land were donated to the city of Lincoln by Mr. Henry H. and Mrs. Sarah H. Frey in 1906 and J.C. Seacrest in 1930. In the beginning it was called the "Rock Garden". The garden has two reflecting pools and a cascading waterfall.
In 2003 renovation of the garden began and was completed in 2005. The Lincoln Parks Foundation raised $1.7 million for the renovation and a partial endowment in a "Polishing a Gem" campaign. The Foundation created the "One Flower Forever" and "Paving the Path" programs. The programs allow people to support the gardens on an ongoing basis in honor of friends, loved ones, and special events.
The renovation included the addition of two new statues and construction of the Rotary Pavilion attached to the restrooms. The original Rebekah at the Well statue by Ellis Burman was replaced by artist David Young's "Rebekah at the Well." Dr. Wayne Southwick's statue "Reville" standing in the Healing Garden depicts his wife Ann getting the children out of bed and ready for the day. The Rotary Pavilion includes a dome designed by architect Jeffrey Chadwick. The dome is made of individual laser cut panels representing the four seasons of Lincoln's skyline.
The only Nebraska garden listed in the "300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada" in the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens!