The Herndon Courtyard for Alzheimer’s Care is located in the Good Shepherd Nursing Home, Wheeling, WV, a turn of the 20th century building that was originally, in part, a monastery for the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. The facility has been converted to a state-of-the-art continuous care facility. As part of their on going upgrade, this piece of forgotten yard has been converted to an accessible outdoor space full of lush detail dedicated to therapy for residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s.

The Courtyard is defined by a surrounding stone wall, which separates the area from traffic on the nearby street. The entrance to the Courtyard is from the main hall of the nursing home. The view, through a glass door, invites one to explore the garden. The door opens onto a raised porch area. For those who do not want to venture further into the garden but who want to enjoy time in a cool and shady outdoor area, the porch is equipped with comfortable garden chairs , as well as room for several wheelchairs. Leading from the porch into the garden is an accessible ramp with beautifully detailed handrails of brass and steel. Adjacent to the ramp is a wonderful cluster of winter blooming Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.

The garden itself is divided into three areas along a skewed/broken axis. From the foot of the access ramp to the left, the axis extends at an angle to the left towards the focal point through the central area. The central area is oval shaped where the brick pavers create a cruciform motif, reflecting the religious heritage of the nursing home. The space in circled with four teak benches, which in turn are shaded by Sweetbay Magnolias, Magnolia virginiana.

Beyond the central area is an existing statue of the Blessed Mother donated to the original monastery in the 1930’s, which is the focal point of the courtyard. Creating a backdrop behind the statue is a semi-circle of Hemlocks, Tsuga Canadensis, which create a rich, dark background for the statue and stop the eye of the viewer from wandering beyond the courtyard. The area at the statue is dedicated to quiet meditation.

The axis breaks at the bottom of the ramp to the right. This area is a bright area devoted to sun and warmth that its location allows. It, too, has benches which are surrounded by perennials and flowering shrubs. Included in its colorful border are Bee Balm, Monarda didyma, Blackeyed Susan, Rudbekia ‘Irish eyes’, Yarrow, Achillea ‘Moonshine’, Lavender , Lavandula ‘Munstead’ and white Speedwell, Veronica Spicata ‘Icicle’.

It is the hope of the landscape architect that the space provides for the patients a sense of security and well-being, often a necessity for Alzheimer patients who can easily become agitated. To address the special needs of the residents, the courtyard intended to be a place of quiet refuge and retreat.

Client - Good Shepherd Nursing Home
Design Consultant: Terratopia
Awards: 2004 WVASLA Merit Award