History of Trees at F&M

The history of trees on the Franklin and Marshall landscape has been a dynamic one, with trees continuously being planted and taken down in response to external decisions and factors. However, this campus has always prided itself  in taking great care and attention to the importance of creating a beautiful and welcoming landscape, with ample respect to the importance of trees. There are trees still on campus today that hold the stories, memories, and positive thoughts and intentions of individuals who were passionate about contributing to our campus long ago. So next time you find yourself looking at a tree, you may imagine the possible story behind how that tree got to be where it is today.

Below is some information on specific events and plantings/removals of trees that we know of.  However, what is listed below is just meant to provide a snapshot of our Arboretum's History and does not include every detail of the changes that have occurred throughout the years.

1853-2000 -Thy Campus Stretching Long: Schuyler & Wood  

The following is an abridged version of Thy Campus Stretching Long: The Franklin and Marshall College Landscape 1853-2000 by David Schuyler and Lydia Wood. The information in the book was written using  1. a (limited) archival written record  2. the campus landscape itself  3. surviving maps and plans and  4. the rich collection of photographs in the colleges archives.

1853, June 7: Franklin and Marshall trustees acquired a ten acre wheat field that overlooked Lancaster City from Jacob Griel. At this point, the campus was in a rural area.

1857: The Building Committee decided that it was time to plant the college campus with trees and shrubs. They wanted to do work to “embellish and render more attractive the college campus.” In the spring, students paid for and planted 100 trees and the Building Committee committed itself to continue this project. The vision of the campus as an arboretum was already beginning to form in these early  years of our history. 

-Cyrus Cort planted 2 oaks north of the campus entrance, one of which still stands. Cyrus Boger planted 2 other oaks south of the entrance, one of which (a hybrid oak) still stands. Horace Yundt planted an American elm, probably the one on the green in front of Old Main

-Henry Douglas (class of 1858) planted a linden which is probably the grafted silver leaf linden by the south entrance of Keiper. He wrote: “where will I be when those trees shade the ground around with their thick foliage. Who will recline under their spreading branches when I am far away…”

1896: The F&M weekly reported that there were 486 trees on campus and different 38 species

1905: The campus reached its current dimensions (a 53 acre tract bounded by College Ave to the east, Buchanan Ave to the south, Race Ave to the west, and Harrisburg Pike to the north) with the purchase of land from Gilen Mahan

1926: The class of 1926 planted a turkey oak on the quadrangle on Class Day. F&M Alumnus remarked that they hoped this would be the start of a new tradition for each senior class. This “turkey oak” could be the willow oak that stands near the northwest corner of Dietz-Santee Hall.

1932: The college planted hundreds of evergreens on the land adjacent to Harrisburg Pike and west of Williamson Field. This area became later known as “Wade’s Woods”, named in honor of Robert M. Wade, a comptroller of the college from 1929-1944. Some of these trees still stand today near the intersection of Harrisburg Pike and Race Avenue.

1935: President Appel appointed the Faculty Tree Committee

-The Muhlenburg Botanical Club was organize and they planted a Muhlenburg (or Chinkapin) oak on campus in honor of G.H.E. Muhlenburg, the first principle of Franklin College, a Lutheran minister, and a noted botanist. This tree may be the oak that stands west of Fackenthal Laboratories.

October 16th, 1937:  The reunion classes planted 24 oak trees along Presidents drive, which entered the campus from Harrisburg Pike west of Williamson field. The trees were meant to be living memorials to Benjamin Franklin, John Marshall, the presidents of the college, and of the board of trustees. Many of these oaks have  been replaced with honey locusts and other species of trees, but a number of the oaks still stand today.

October 1944: Anthony Napolitan donated 50 dogwood trees and 30 American elms. Some of the dogwoods still stand along College Ave between Meyran and Dietz Hall, but both elms have fallen victim to disease.

Around 1946: Professor of Biology Arthur Shively planted the persimmon tree that stands west of Fackenthal Laboratories as well as a Hiccan (hybrid of a pecan a hickory) west of Hartman Arts

April 1954: C. Harry Keller, class of 1886, donated 10 trees to the college including 2 black oaks, one of which still stands behind Marshall Gate. The donation was made in honor of former president Theodore A Disler and Board President Paul Kieffer, and memorialized Professor William E Weisgerber, former president John Stahr, members of the class of 1886, and others

1959: The Faculty Tree Committee was discontinued. Responsibility  for the campus’s trees went instead to the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. However, the  Academic Council hoped interested faculty would continue to contribute.

1973: President Keith Spalding proposed a process of reforestation on F&M's campus, due to the removal of may trees in subsequent years. His intentions were to preserve the “arboretum-like nature of the campus.” He pledged that F&M would replace “on a one-to-one basis at the very least the trees we must remove because of disease, death, or removal for construction”

1975:  “We are very conscious of the fact that the College campus is  a significant arboretum now” remarked Director of Operations John Smith, adding, “we’re making an attempt to keep this tradition alive, both for its educational as well as aesthetic value to the College”

July 1975: Hartman Hall was demolished and "the great oval" was replaced by Hartman Green, a 3-acre open lawn surrounded by tall trees and shrubs. The 2 saucer magnolias that stood outside of Hartman Hall were preserve, as were a number of old trees, including two great elms (now lost to Dutch Elm disease) and the massive copper beech near Dietz (subsequently removed because of disease)

-Biology Supervisory Lab Technician Carroll Shearer was responsible for selecting the trees used in the replanting Hartman Green as well as for the trees and shrubs planted in the vicinity of Fackenthal Laboratories

1978: In conjunction with the North Museum Associates and the Muhlenberg Botanical Society, the F&M Women’s Club initiated the Memorial Arboretum project. They sold college calendars to raise the funds to plant 12 trees. A shadbush was planted near the southwest end of Hartman Green in memory of Professor Charles Spotts and a redbud was planted in memory of Professor Leonard Grove.

-At a ceremony marking the dedication of the Angino Garden, Lancaster mayor Janice C Stork and two members of the Shade Tree Commission presented the annual Shade Tree Award to F&M in recognition of the campus landscape. Alice Richardson, a landscape architect and member of the Shade Tree Commission, praised the campus’s trees and grounds as “a real asset to the city of Lancaster”

1995: Carroll Shearer, the “Lawn Ranger” who devoted uncounted hours to the beautification of the landscape, obtained a number of rare trees and shrubs from Morris Arboretum including a flowering ash that stands south of Kaufman Lecture Hall, a giant variegated dogwood north of Keiper, the blackhaw viburnum and big leaf dogwood that stand along the walk between Keiper and Stager, and the weeping katsura tree along College Ave east of Stager Hall.

Carroll Shearer and Michael Allen, class of 1992, developed a computerized map of trees and shrubs on the campus that Shearer and biology students have updated in 1995,1997, 2001, and 2007.

For a more complete list of events regarding trees taken from Schulyer's book, click here.

Or find Schulyer's book in the F&M Library