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University Facilities and Services


Horticulture and Grounds: Arboretum

Box 270500  •  Rochester, New York  •  14627-0345

To reinforce and maintain an environment that preserves the beauty of the campus through a progressive program of grounds management, while supporting the study of native plant materials and developing new plant collections. The Arboretum will create an opportunity for continuing education about the University and regional horticulture, celebrating their history while promoting interest and support for the University and the Arboretum.

— David Nelson, Manager: Horticulture & Grounds
phone: (585) 273-5815

River Campus Arboretum Video Tour

Horticultural History

The University of Rochester River Campus, located along the Genesee River in upstate New York, has a long tradition of using trees to enhance the beauty of this unique setting. Throughout the history of the University, founded in 1850, trees have been planted, maintained, and preserved. As further support of these efforts, in 1999, the president's planning group approved portions of the campus to be established as the University of Rochester Arboretum.

The tradition is an extension of the arboricultural legacy of the Rochester area. Portions of the city and Mt. Hope Campus of the University still harbor remnants of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery. The nursery trade that flourished in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Rochester was once the largest of its type in the country and has left a lasting impression on the city and campus.

The River Campus occupies the original setting of the Oak Hill Country Club. The University purchased the Oak Hill grounds in 1923 and initially raised 10 million dollars for the establishment of the college on this site. Ground was broken for Lattimore Hall in 1927, the first University building to be constructed, located in the northwest corner of the Eastman Quadrangle. The integrity of the landscape was insured when Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was retained as designer and consultant to the architects. The Olmstead international fame stems from his father's design of such well-known areas as Central Park, the Arnold Arboretum, and Yosemite National Park. The University endorsed the River Campus in 1930 as the primary site of their men's college.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. was responsible for the design of a "River Walk" of oak trees along the Genesee River. This portion of the campus was recently sold to the City of Rochester, with contributions from Bausch & Lomb, to establish more public parkland along the river corridor. Included along a three-quarter-mile stretch are 197 oak trees with more than 15 different species identified between Elmwood Avenue and Intercampus Drive.

Although not located on the River Campus, the University of Rochester also harbors a former champion Ponderosa Pine tree, which is among the largest known examples of this species in the State of New York. This giant, along with the canopy of cover from trees on the rest of the campus, add tremendously to the aesthetic appeal of the grounds while complementing and softening the existing architecture. The visual impact that trees have on the University grounds as they add fall color, winter texture, and spring flowers is invaluable.

Campus Trees

Additional Info