Christy Woods was part of the original land gift to the State of Indiana from the Ball brothers in 1918.

Prior to the donation to the state, the land was used intensively. Timber was cut, and hogs were allowed to graze in the woods. This destroyed the native herbaceous and small woody vegetation on the property. 

O.B. Christy worked with his biology classes to transplant wildflowers from around the state into the woods. An iron fence was installed to enclose the area and reduce trespassing and vandalism. The land became known as The Arboretum until 1940, when it was given the official name Christy Woods in honor of O.B. Christy, who was the head of the science department.

In 1928, at the suggestion of Professor J.J. Porter of Cornell University, a system of trails was laid out in the eastern wooded portion, and garden beds were developed in the open areas.

In 1970, a greenhouse was built in the south central section of the woods to house the Wheeler-Thanhauser Orchid Collection and Species Bank given to the university by W.O. and Goldie Wheeler. A small addition was built on the north end of the orchid house in 1972.

The Teaching and Research Greenhouse was constructed in 1992. A smaller greenhouse on the east end of the Teaching and Research Greenhouse is used for native plant propagation.