Thursday, January 27, 2011

Naturally Kirtland Part II - Early histories of an Arboretum and a Farmpark

Its familiar green sign can be found throughout Lake County.  Travel eastward down Morley Road and it is visible.  Travel south on Chillicothe Road and it is visible. Travel Route 2 or 90 eastbound or westbound and that well known name appears.  That familiar green sign and name is the Holden Arboretum.  Established in 1931 at the behest of Albert Fairchild Holden, it was conceived as a memorial for his oldest daughter Elizabeth Davis Holden, who died at the age of 12 in 1908 of scarlet fever.  When Albert Fairchild Holden died in 1913 at the young age of 46, his two surviving daughters inherited a trust for this eventual arboretum.  After some consideration of affiliating with Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, Emery May and Katharine Davis Holden looked to Kirtland, Ohio.  A donation of 100 acres from Benjamin (Roberta) Bole of Kirtland Township in 1931 began Holden's history.  Warren H. and Maud Corning donated a library collection and archives to the Arboretum.  Mr. Corning even served as executive administrator through 1958.  Lantern Court or the Corning home is now a part of the Holden Arboretum properties.  2011 marks the 80th anniversary of one of the United States' best known arboretums.  From its humble beginning of 100 acres, the arboretum now totals 3,600 acres.  The Arboretum contains twenty miles of hiking trails and features 120,000 species of plants.   The Holden Arboretum and all it offers are available daily for the public to experience.

Another familiar sign and logo had its start 170 years ago.  In the year 1831, Christopher G. Crary purchased 156 acres from Joshua Stow of the Connecticut Land Company.  In 1854, he purchased another 164 acres from a Tunis Rockafellow.  Robert Criswell purchases 206 acres from Crary in 1882.  In 1943, Grayce Farinacci acquired this property.  Dr. Leonard T. Skeggs purchased 119 acres from Farinacci in 1969.  He also purchased 116 adjoining acres and Locust Farms was founded.  The Farm raised Polish Arabian Horses on this Kirtland - Chardon Road property until 1987.  The sale of the Locust Farms to Lake Metroparks in 1987 marked a new beginning.  Officially opened in 1990, the Lake Farmpark is a working farm and its seasonal public events are well received by the county residents at large.  Halloween Hayrides began in 1990.  A dairy parlor was added in 1991.  Vintage, Ohio got its start in 1995 and the popular Well Bred Shed opened in 1999.

Naturally Kirtland has much to offer.  The Herb Society of America, The Holden Arboretum, and Lake Farmpark are three horticultural gems and part of our still evolving local lore.  It is a living history worth experiencing as often as possible.

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