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June 6th, 2013 by Samuel Mix

Hadwen Arboretum # 3

Yesterday I had a meeting with Jenny Isler, and we talked about my research. I had found a map of Worcester from 1870 right before this meeting, that I received from the Goddard library. It showed “Elmwood nursery”, and the house in the center of the nursery was marked as belonging to O.B. Hadwen (close up in figure 2).
Worcester 1870
Figure 1 Worcester 1870
Worcester 1870 close-up
Figure 2 Hadwen’s Property 1870

It was at that meeting that I realized today’s Hadwen Arboretum is a reflection on Clark. Hadwen Arboretum is part arboretum, part forest. This is just like how Clark is part research university and part liberal arts college: it’s a mixture. Because of its split composition, it is hard to find a traditional method of managing the arboretum, as both components are unique and require a careful balance.

A big question that Jenny brought up for my research: Why did Hadwen give the arboretum to Clark University?
This question is still on my mind today. Fordyce Williams, the Coordinator for Clark’s archives special collections, was friendly and incredibly helpful. We started with a folder that referenced another folder, and then another still. I soon had tons of information.

Through the research, I found several big Clark names mentioned in conjunction to the arboretum. This includes Atwood, Jefferson, and Higgins. Another name that kept emerging was Potter, whom I had never heard of. He was first mentioned in a letter between him and President Atwood in 1925. Potter showed interest in the Arboretum, and made some recommendations (recommendations about what). You also learn from these yearly letters that there was at one point a full time caretaker on the property, but this arrangement did not work out. A new question emerges from this information, as to why the implementation of a caretaker was such a failure. Potter continued to try a build support for an arboretum. In the 30’s, Atwood formed the Hadwen botany Club with Professor Potter as its president. This club hosted monthly meeting and talks about botany (some Hadwen Arboretum related, and some not). He made another recommendation in 1954, along with others professors, to President Atwood for use of the arboretum. Professor Potter seemed to have been a champion for the arboretum.

I realized with some level of sadness that I am not the first one to try to bring change to the arboretum, and that the lack of attention being paid to the arboretum is not new either. Potter was one of the first to make a recommendation in 1921, and again 1925, then others tried the same in 1954, 1971, 1974, 1978 and the 80’s.

There is also good news I learned from archive as well. The trustees were made numerous offers to sell the land that the arboretum occupies, including ones from the Fairland hospital and Worcester horticulture south. In the 80’s they even commissioned a company to create an outline to build houses on the arboretum. Despite these offers, the trustees ended up deciding to keep the property.

It may be a neglected piece of property, but it’s Clark’s neglected piece of property.

Other things I learned (largely from trustee chair Higgins’s file)
- HA today is really two parcels of land, one given by Hadwen himself (1907), and another from Anne Coes (1931). The 1931 section included the community baseball field. In Coes’ will she placed no constraints upon the property, unlike Hadwen, who specified the land was to stay an arboretum for scientific purposes.
- There is an overgrown road, called Appleton, which fairway hospital technically holds right-of-way to travel upon.
- There was also a legal issue about Clark regarding Hadwen’s will, because the land he bequeathed was not maintained as an arboretum. Despite this issue, since Clark has make not attempts to use this space as something other than an arboretum, Clark is not considered to have violated the will.

The Clark Archive provided a lot of answers, but generated more questions. The big questions surrounding Hadwen are still unclear. Why did he give it this land to Clark? What did Hadwen see in Clark when he wrote his will?

I think I may try to look more into his will. I’ll go to public records and see if I can find a full copy of this document.

I have a week and a half left to do the research section of this project and I still have to look in what practices other arboretums currently implement, as well as conducting a non-market evaluation. I know there was a graduating student who did an economics project on park spaces, and I hope to gain access to her research to further my own project.

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