Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania began in 1887 as Compton, the summer home of John and Lydia Morris, brother and sister. The I.P. Morris Company, an iron-manufacturing firm founded by their father and later run by John Morris, was a source of family wealth.
The land the Morrises purchased in Chestnut Hill was barren, with poor soil that drained too quickly; but with diligent care they surrounded their home with a landscape and plant collection devoted to beauty and knowledge. Two Lines a sculpture by George Rickey marks the former mansion site. The Widener Visitor Center was formerly the carriage house.
John was a noted plantsman and community leader who explored the new world of knowledge available to Victorians. John and Lydia traveled widely in America, Asia, and Europe bringing ideas, artwork, crafts and plants back to Compton. They shared a love of history and art, and established a tradition of placing sculpture in the garden that continues today. The Morrises were active in civic affairs and preservation, and believed in the power of education. It was their earnest hope to be judged "worthy stewards."
John and Lydia Morris laid plans for a school and laboratory at Compton devoted to horticulture and botany. Through the stewardship and vision of the Quaker family, Compton became the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in 1932. Listed on The National Register of Historic Places, it is an interdisciplinary resource center for the University, and is recognized as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Science, art, and humanities are pursued through a variety of research, teaching, and outreach programs that link the Arboretum to a worldwide effort to nurture the earth's forests, fields and landscapes.
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In response to the unprecedented public health crisis related to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Morris Arboretum will close to the public as of March 14, 2020 until the University of Pennsylvania feels that is it safe to re-open. Learn more about the Univerisity's response on the University of Pennsylvania’s dedicated Coronavirus website: coronavirus.upenn.edu. Please know that this decision was made after careful deliberation and that our priority is to do all we can to ensure the safety and well being of our staff, volunteers, and visitors. Information pertaining to public health is rapidly evolving and, as such, it is not yet known when we will reopen. We will be vigilant in our efforts to keep our website up-to-date and we will communicate directly to members and class registrants via email with the latest details.
The following information is provided in anticipation of some of the questions you may have relative to the following categories:
Individuals who have registered for a class
It is our intention to provide a refund to individuals who have registered for a class that occurs during this temporary closure. We are working as quickly as possible to process your refunds in the manner in which you paid. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com.
We appreciate your patience at this time. We know that early spring is the most natural time to come out to the Arboretum for a walk in the gardens to enjoy the fresh air, but maintaining public health must be our priority. We look forward to seeing you in the gardens just as soon as we are reassured that it is safe for all of our visitors to return. We will keep you updated on any developments, but in the meantime, if you have any questions about your membership, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any individuals that have planned events will receive outreach directly from a staff member to discuss your options.
We will continue to update the community as soon as information is available and is consistent with the evolution of this dynamic situation. Questions may be directed to email@example.com.
We appreciate your understanding during these challenging times and we thank you for your support. Please stay connected with us through Facebook, Instagram, and our website.
Unfortunately, Out on a Limb will be closed on Wednesday, January 29th through Friday, January 31, 2020 due to scheduled maintenance.
The Garden Railway will not be operational from 2:00 PM Friday (July 19) through the weekend (July 20-21). The trains will open for normal operation on Monday, July 22nd. Our Train Master reported that the trains will not operate in the excessive heat, citing electrical, track and rolling stock failures.
The Arboretum is open as usual. Click here for hours.
Garden Railway trains are not running Saturday, September 8th and Sunday, September 9th due to inclement weather.
Please note: The Rose Garden is closed for maintenance every Thursday morning until noon.
Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.