The central and most historic area of the IUP campus is the current focus of the initial phase of the Allegheny Arboretum project.
During Phase I of the project, the Oak Grove was restored to former beauty when older trees were pruned or removed if necessary, and new ones were added. Areas were mulched, and gardens were planted. New benches were scheduled for installation in October. Visitors and students began to notice species labels on selected trees and shrubs.
The East Lawn will be the next area of the project’s focus. Many alumni have fond memories of relaxing on the East Porch of Sutton Hall or gathering near the nineteenth-century fountain on the lawn. In 1957, then-president Willis Pratt made available private funding to build Flagstone Theater at the lower end of the east lawn, and an era of outdoor culture and entertainment was begun.
Today, the fountain is long gone, and Flagstone Theater is in disrepair. As the arboretum evolves from the Oak Grove to the East Lawn, that feeling of a nineteenth-century college green will be re-created. A replica of the original iron fountain will be installed, adjacent to gardens and seating areas. Flagstone Theater will be restored, and seating for audiences—aside from blankets and folding chairs—will be addressed.
A master plan for the arboretum would incorporate its educational, recreational, and aesthetic goals into the university’s physical plan for growth. The landscape architectural firm of Marshall Tyler Rausch, LLC, has been chosen to develop such a plan. Primarily known for its work in botanic gardens, arboreta, and universities across the country, MTR has achieved national recognition for many of its projects, which include on the local level the design of flower shows for Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and the creation of its railroad exhibit. The firm has also been selected to develop a master plan for the second century of the Phipps.
At a cost of nearly $100,000 for the master plan, private funding is critical to the success of the arboretum project. To date, generous donors have contributed more than $27,000 for trees, benches, gardens, and general arboretum maintenance. The plan to restore the central campus to its original beauty and to expand the arboretum campuswide relies on the generosity of alumni and university and community friends. As the only university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education with plans for an arboretum, IUP is in the forefront of both meeting university and regional needs and creating a place of lasting beauty.