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Historic Holden

March 16, 2023


Beautiful then and now, the Holden Arboretum is filled with history and impressive plants and trees since it was established in 1931. Follow along with these photos from the 60s and 70s and see if you can recognize some of the locations in the photos!

Emeritus Board Member Eliot Paine provided these historic images taken at the Holden Arboretum. Below Eliot is leading a tree identification class in Fall 1968. The tree is sassafras (Sassafras albidum).
The Cooper (Administration) Building in 1964. Notice the barn to the left (southwest), and the young shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) by the barn. That shingle oak is now 85’ tall, 64’ wide, with a trunk diameter of 39 inches.
Flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida) were common at the Holden Arboretum, here by the “Blue Trail” on May 16, 1967. Unfortunately, in the 1980’s we lost most of our flowering dogwoods to a disease referred to as dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva).
In the 1960’s Eliot Paine assisted volunteer Jean Eakin with establishing bluebird boxes in Holden’s meadows, this one being east of Corning Lake. Thousands of bluebirds have fledged at Holden Arboretum thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, making Kirtland, Ohio Bluebird Central.
Goose banding day in July 1970 on Corning Lake looking east. Canada geese were less common in 1970 than they are today.
Knap Hill azaleas in bloom south of Logsdon (Heath) Pond, June 1967. The Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden was designed so that one can see native trees and woods in every view. In the back right is a red oak (Quercus rubra) that now measures 115’ tall, 94’ wide, with a trunk diameter of 60 inches.
Katherine Holden Thayer Center in May 1968 with a Catholic school group. The Thayer Center was constructed in 1964.
View over Reflecting Pond north of Thayer Center with crabapples in bloom in the background, May 4, 1968.
Groundbreaking for the Warren H. Corning Library and Visitor Center. Holden Arboretum Executive Director, R. Henry Norweb, Jr. and Maud Corning, 1979. Orange hawkweed in the background (Hieracium aurantiacum).
Some of the people attending the groundbreaking ceremony in 1979 included from left to right, in red Barbara Webster, with hat R. Henry Norweb, Sr., with cane Emery May Holden Norweb, Ellen Corning Long, and Alison Corning Jones are in the foreground on the right.
Lilacs in the Display Garden, May 1984 looking north towards the Hedge Garden and Corning Building. The tree on the left is a cottonwood (Populus deltoides).

Hope you have enjoyed these images of Historic Holden. Thanks to Eliot Paine for sharing his photographs. Bill Hendricks of Klyn Nurseries suggests that images be taken of the same areas during the upcoming season for comparison. These images and many more were received in December 2022.

Ethan Johnson

Ethan Johnson

Plant Records Curator

I am a Cleveland, Ohio native who was brought to the Holden Arboretum at an early age. I remember when the Cleveland Botanical Garden (then Garden Center of Greater Cleveland) was built on its current site. Made maps of the Gwinn Estate in Bratenahl as a child and became interested in plant identification in Storrs, CT where my family moved in 1972. Served as an Intern then Gardener at the arboretum in 1981 - 1982. Worked for the Arnold Arboretum in plant records 1985 - 1989. After returning to the arboretum in 1989 with Peter Bristol as my supervisor, I became a member of the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the American Public Gardens Association, the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association, the International Dendrological Research Institute, and American Conifer Society. Peter Bristol left in 2001, then Charles Tubesing was my supervisor until 2020, and now I report to Thomas Arbour.

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