The San Jose Secret Garden located on the San Jose State campus was opened December 4, 1955. The designer of the garden was World War 2 Veteran and San Jose State Alum, Del Dwayne Suess. Suess was born and raised in San Jose. He designed the hidden concrete garden as a 10-year anniversary gift, and 29th birthday gift for his wife Irene Suess. It took him and 15 others six years and $90,000 in donations, loans, and city funding to complete the project. The project was fully executed without the knowledge of Suess’ wife.
364 days of the year, the park features, several wood benches, a historical church bell, a border of rose bushes, and a small open concrete courtyard. Every year, on December 4, the school opens The Secret Garden to the public. The normal concrete brick courtyard flooring lowers 75 feet below ground using intricate steel chains and belts. The floor is replaced with a 200-tons of concrete floral sculptures and statues.
The change takes 25 men and 5 continuous hours. The structure is maintained, fixed, and preserved by city workers in an extensive assessment process every December 5. Spectators are welcomed to view this event as well. Only two modifications were made in the past 61 years. An electric-powered belt was installed to ease the transition process. Lights were installed beneath the floral statues to illuminate the pieces.
The park features 1,945 concrete flowers – representing the year WW2 ended and the year he married. Some of the more popular flowers include roses, gardenias, dahlias, and California poppies. There are 20 different species in all.
In 1992, the year before Suess died, The San Jose Secret Garden was deemed as a National Historical site.