This 70-acre industrial complex was established in 1911 by the National Electric Lamp Association (NELA), part of the General Electric corporation. The company’s officers envisioned a self-contained corporate campus to foster not just technological innovation, but the health and well-being of their employees. The site, a former vineyard perched at the edge of a forested ravine, was selected for its scenic qualities and distance from the city, lying approximately seven miles northeast of downtown.
Situated between Noble and Belvoir Roads, the complex was promoted as a “University of Industry” and designed by architects Frank Wallis and Frank Goodwillie. Their design appropriated the elegant architectural forms and bucolic settings typically found on private estates for an industrial park, a scheme subsequently replicated for other corporate campuses. Winding drives navigate the site’s varied topography and provide access to laboratories, administrative offices, and recreational spaces.
At the plan’s core, an expansive quadrangle lawn interspersed with deciduous shade trees is traversed by paths connecting the surrounding neo-Georgian buildings, erected between 1913 and 1921. The southwestern half is dominated by a grand, circular pool edged by a brick path and partially ensconced by the curved wings of an abutting building. Southeast of the quadrangle, another grouping of Neo-Georgian buildings (erected between 1917 and 1960), frame a rectangular lawn shaded by ordered rows of oaks,. Recreational amenities, including swimming pools and tennis courts, were established in the northeast section of the campus in 1914.
The site was sold by General Electric in 2022. Nela Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.