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The Campus Improvement Committee established the Centenary College Arboretum in 1984 in the natural depression created by a drainage path formed in the gentle decline of the land from north to south across the center of the campus property. The arboretum continues the natural development of this low place on campus that had begun 60 years earlier when the amphitheatre was constructed to its north. In the project's earliest stage, the designer constructed an upper pond dam on the extreme western boundary of the arboretum area to produce a drainage basin and to build up a concentrated biosystem around the water channel. To the east of this water channel and following its path to the south along the western-faced slopes of the natural depression, over 300 labeled plants have been planted and nature paths created. The initial emphasis, of course, was on trees and shrubs from the tremendous diversity of Louisiana and southeastern native species. These were intended to supplement and eventually replace the original trees, which were made up of surviving elements from the time of Centenary's move to the site in 1907 and which were past maturity and in decline. In more recent years, there has been an attempt to add a significant herbaceous understory plant component. In 1996 a lower pond was constructed as part of the campus master plan design, and additional work on the vegetation around the two ponds or drainage basin has helped considerably to slow runoff and limit erosion of the clay slopes.
The arboretum is a site of extraordinary beauty, and its location in the heart of campus makes it particularly enjoyable, enhancing not only the natural beauty of the landscape but providing an aesthetic backdrop of colors for the surrounding buildings. Many of the plantings and most of the construction of the pond and pathways has been done by Centenary students and faculty. The location has served as a natural laboratory for students and a site for contemplation and education for the Shreveport community. (The source for much of this text is from a report by the arboretum's designer and caretaker, Dr. Ed Leuck.)
Bryson, Helen R. "A History of Centenary College." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1941.
Centenary College, The College of Louisiana. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1979.
East Feliciana Parish Records. Clinton and Jackson, LA.
Fay, Edwin W. The History of Education in Louisiana. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1898.
Nelson, William H. A Burning Torch and a Flaming Fire: The Story of Centenary College of Louisiana. Nashville, TN: Methodist Publishing, 1931.
Varnado, Otto W. "A History of the Early Institutions of Higher Learning in Louisiana." M. A. thesis, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, 1927.