1894 - 1938
Trees have long been important to Wheaton. Mrs. Wheaton, who was herself interested in trees and collected specimens to plant in her own gardens, deeded more than 40 acres of woodland at the southern edge of the campus to the Seminary in 1894.
Known as Seminary Woods, and later as College Pines, this area was a favorite destination for student walks. Graduating classes have been donating trees and other plantings to the College since at least 1903. Beginning in 1922, Dr. Mable Rice, head of Wheaton’s botany department, developed botanical gardens and records of the specimen trees on the campus and in the woods. Alumnae from many classes donated a wide variety of woodland and rock garden plants. The work was done entirely by Miss Rice and members of Wheaton’s grounds staff, especially Manger of Grounds and Buildings, Arthur Cutler. Dr. Rice mapped the specimen trees and developed a brochure describing the college’s arboreal collection.
Dr. Park formally opened the Arboretum in the fall of 1936, but its grandeur was short-lived. The 1938 Hurricane damaged so many trees in the College Pines that Wheaton workmen built several small faculty houses at College Green of lumber cut from the downed trees, and the College paid to have thousands of board feet of trees hauled away. Undeterred, Dr. Rice published new maps and pamphlets about the surviving trees and plantings, which form the basis of our current knowledge about Wheaton’s trees.