Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Cowling Arboretum

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Institution Name: Carleton College
Original/Historic Place Name: Carleton Arboretum
Location on Campus: north and northeastern part of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1909-present (2003)evolution of design Stork, Harvey Stewart, D. Blake
Designer: Harvey Stork; D. Blake Stewart
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: education, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Function:
ca. 1909arboretum (five-mile nature trail, seven-mile bridle trail)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classroom
ca. 2004-present (2006)arboretum (wild life refuge, natural landscape area including: lowland savanna, upland savanna, and prairie)
 

Narrative:
During his tenure, former President Donald J. Cowling presided over a much more unified approach to the treatment of the campus grounds, as well as the installation of several notable landscapes features. Norman Patton made "preliminary sketches" for the arrangement of grounds and buildings. The Lyman Memorial Lakes, with their two islands, were created in 1916-1917 by dredging and filling. Bell Field was added in 1921; and from 1920 on, the landscaping efforts were overseen by D. Blake Steward. Among Steward's major projects were the implementation of the new Arboretum, based on a report in 1927 to President Cowling by Professor Harvey Stork of the botany department; and the construction of Lilac Hall in 1934, building on a gift of 1,500 lilac bushes from A. M. Brand of Faribault, Minnesota. The original arboretum, located north and west of Williams and Willis, was established in 1894 and is believed to be the first in the state of Minnesota. By 1903, the "Arb" had sixty-six varieties of trees. In 1927, over 300 species of trees and shrubs were planted over a five year period.

The Arb was significantly expanded in the late 1920s. "In its heyday, in the 1940s and 1950s, with its carefully groomed paths, its rustic bridges, its neat signs identifying the numerous species of flora, its nature shines and botanical gardens, the Arboretum was on of the marvels of the region." 1949, the arboretum was over 500 acres and was designated a state game refuge. President Cowling also presided over a much more unified approach to the treatment of the campus grounds and the installation of several notable landscapes features. Norman Patton made "preliminary sketches" for the arrangement of grounds and buildings. The Lyman Memorial Lakes, with their two islands, were created in 1916-1917 by dredging and filling. Bell Field was added in 1921. From 1920 on, the landscaping efforts were overseen by D. Blake Steward. Among his major projects were the implementation of the new Arboretum, based on a report in 1927 to President Cowlings by Professor Harvey Stork of the botany department, and Lilac Hall in 1934, building on a gift of 1,500 lilac bushes from A. M. Brand of Faribault, Minnesota. The original arboretum, located north and west of Williams and Willis, was established in 1894 and is believed to be the first in the state of Minnesota. By 1903, the "Arb" had sixty-six varieties of trees. In 1927, over 300 species of trees and shrubs are planted over a five year period.

The Arb was significantly expanded in the late 1920's. "In its heyday, in the 1940's and 1950's, with its carefully groomed paths, its rustic bridges, its neat signs identifying the numerous species of flora, its nature shines and botanical gardens, the Arboretum was on of the marvels of the region." Vandalism and flooding caused deterioration by the 1960's. By 1949, the arboretum was over 500 acres and was designated a state game refuge.

On Earth Day in 1977, the first native plantings were installed by students. Today, over 60% or about 500 acres of the arboretum are planted in natural landscapes of lowland savanna, up-land savanna, and prairie. The Cowling Arboretum is named the number one Northfield attraction. In November 2002, 83 additional acres were added to the arboretum, and the total land holdings grew to approximately 1050 acres.
 

References:

Carleton College Database (2006). Carleton College Facilities, Management and Planning Office. Carleton College, Northfield, MN.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Landscape: Functions, Forms, Features. New York: Wiley, 2000.

Headley, Leal A., and Merrill E. Jarchow. Carleton: The First Century. Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 1966.

Jarchow, Merrill E. Carleton Moves Confidently Into Its Second Century. Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 1992.

Jarchow, Merrill E. Educator, Idealist, Humanitarian, Donald J. Cowling. Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 1974.

Jarchow, Merrill E. In Search of Fulfillment: Episodes in the Life of D. Blake Steward. St. Paul, MN: North Central Publishing Company, 1974.

Jarchow, Merrill E. Private Liberal Arts Colleges in Minnesota: Their History and Contributions. Saint Paul, MN: Historical Society, 1973.

Jarchow, Merrill E., and David H. Porter. Carleton Remembered 1909-1986. Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 1987.

Leonard, Delvan L. The History of Carleton College. Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1904.

Pearson, Marjorie, and Charlene K. Roise, Carleton College Campus: An Historical Survey. Minneapolis, MN: Hess, Roise and Company, 2001.

Soth, Lauren. Architecture at Carleton: A Brief History and Guide. Northfield, MN: Carleton College, 1987.

 

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