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Happy Arbor Day Eve, Jayhawks! How will you be celebrating tomorrow?
Did you know that Lawrence’s first Arbor Day celebration took place on March 29, 1878? Chancellor James Marvin – an avid amateur horticulturist – declared a general university holiday, and local residents joined KU students and faculty to plant more than 300 young trees in North Hollow, the area that became known as Marvin Grove.
KU alumnus and Greek professor Miles Wilson Sterling described the event in an article “The Trees of the Campus,” which appeared in the December 1909 issue of the The Graduate Magazine.
“I have a vivid recollection of the day and the circumstances of the first planting of trees in the north hollow. At that time the ground was covered chiefly by prairie grass. There were a few clumps of crab apple and wild plum along the ravine, but nothing that could grow into a respectable forest tree. The Douglas County Horticultural society furnished free of charge several wagon loads of young elms, honey locusts, hackberries, evergreens, and other varieties of trees.
Early in the morning, several members of the faculty and several scores of young men led by Dr. Marvin, began the task of planting. The early part of the day was cloudy and chilly but the interest and rivalry in the work kept everybody warm and cheerful. Dr. Marvin went about personally directing the proceedings and sometimes taking a spade in hand to show how the planting should be done. Before noon it began to rain, and sometime later to snow; but by that time all the stock of trees had been properly placed.”
The Lawrence Daily Gazette described the event in an article on April 13, 1895:
“To the class of ’96 of the State University belongs the credit of introducing into college circles of the west, that social function so famous in eastern colleges – the Junior promenade. The Fraternal Aid hall [in downtown Lawrence on the southeast corner of Eighth and Vermont streets] as the scene last evening of the pleasant college gathering…The hall was handsomely decorated with cut flowers and potted plants and the class colors, cream and crimson. The refreshments were served on the stage and the balcony was fitted up with tables for crokinole cards and checkers. Dancing was the order of the evening.”