In 1966, A. L. Freedlander, then president of the Dayco Corporation, issued a challenge to the Haywood County community to match his donation to build a new campus for its local college and transform the site of a former farm "into the most beautifully landscaped area in Haywood County.”

A half century later, the Campus Arboretum of Haywood Community College’s landscapes, gardens and expansive collections have indeed become "one of the most beautifully landscaped areas in Haywood County." The Haywood Community College Foundation celebrates this legacy with "Forest, Farm + Garden, 1966 – 2016," an exhibit in the Mary Cornwell Gallery of the Creative Arts Building at HCC from October 1 through November 19. A reception for the exhibit will be held on Tuesday, October 18 from 5 until 7 p.m. 

In the decades after World War II, new highways, subdivisions and commercial strips were rapidly displacing the gently rolling topography of rural Western North Carolina’s pastoral landscape of farms, fields, and forests. Influenced by the conservation ethic of its first forestry instructors, Haywood Technical Institute’s (now called Haywood Community College) new campus would contrast dramatically with prevailing trends, adopting a more ecological planning, design, and stewardship approach far ahead of its day.

Instead of clearing and leveling the site, landscape architect Doan Ogden’s master plan conserved a gracious, shaded “island of green” at the center of campus, and sited buildings, roads, and parking to embrace the contours of the land and retain and showcase its natural features.

With continued attentive stewardship over the next several decades, this forested heart of campus became the core of the Campus Arboretum. Its collections - cultivated by local naturalists, master horticulturists, work study students, and community volunteers - expanded to include productive greenhouses, a dahlia garden, an orchard, working vegetable gardens, a rhododendron garden, and a mill pond with an operable grist mill - a tapestry of landscapes that together capture the heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and its people.

Illustrated with stunning new photographs by Benjamin Porter and historic plans, photographs, and maps from founding director John Palmer’s records, this exhibit celebrates the first fifty years of the Campus Arboretum of HCC and documents the site’s transformation from open pastureland with a remnant stand of woodland to the lush, shaded Arboretum today.

Evoking both agrarian traditions and the biodiversity and complexity of the native plant communities of the Southern Appalachian and Blue Ridge ecoregion, the Campus Arboretum continues to serve as a vibrant living laboratory today, fostering increased understanding, appreciation and stewardship of Western North Carolina’s unique cultural and natural heritage.

This project has been made possible through generous gifts from the Charitable Foundation of the International Dendrology Society and individual International Dendrology Society members. Proceeds from the sale of the exhibit catalog, photographs, and posters will be used to further education, outreach, and ongoing stewardship of the Campus Arboretum of Haywood Community College.

Photos by Benjamin Porter Grassy Glen-HCC will celebrate the college’s landscapes, gardens and expansive collections "Forest, Farm + Garden, 1966 – 2016," an exhibit in the Mary Cornwell Gallery of the Creative Arts Building from October 1 through November 19. Mill Pond-The HCC Mill Pond is a recognizable icon of the campus and is often the hub of activity for student and community events. Willow Tree by Mill Pond-Pictured is a willow tree located beside the Mill Pond. HCC’s entire campus is a designated arboretum.


Archive photos are HCC file photos. Pictured is the future site of the college’s Rhododendron Garden. Pictured is the HCC mill wheel before the student-built mill house was constructed.