Green Allegheny College

When the Allegwe and the Seneca peoples lived in French Creek Valley, it was thickly forested with beech, red oak, American chestnuts, cherry, ashes, pine and hemlocks. For the European settlers, the land was to be tamed and cleared for farming, making lumbering a major economic enterprise. The original five acres donated for Allegheny College on Mt. Hope commanded an excellent view of the Cussewago and French Creek, but the campus itself was barren. Thus, in the early years, suitable native trees were “planted for ornament,” and individual trees are remembered in campus lore: the Bentley Sycamore, the Lyre Elm, the Circle of Pines, and the Seven Sisters.

An inscription on the college seal reflects the idea that the college was a cultivated oasis in the wilderness: “the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Is. 35:1). In the 1910s, donors Frank A. Arter and Sarah Cochran contributed hundreds of trees for mass plantings, such as the 200 original rhododendrons for the Ravine. President William H. Crawford assisted by faculty biologist Chester Darling worked to acquire new species and rarer specimens for display. In the 1930s President William R. Tolley and Trustee Andrew Wells Robertson continued the commitment to create an idyllic natural environment for learning, with the Alumni Gardens in 1937-38, and the expansion of the campus with Eberhardt (now Robertson Field) and the Bousson Environmental Research Reserve. Due to this thoughtful cultivation of a variety of plants, the college campus today meets all the requirements to be recognized as an arboretum by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

With the rise of the ecology movement and the development of an environmental science program, 21st-century Allegheny College pursues sustainability as an integral part of its mission. The commitment is evident in LEED® certified buildings like the North Village residential project, the environmental art in Carr Hall, the (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)rooftop garden of the Vukovich Center, or the Climate Action Plan to achieve climate neutrality by the year 2020. But political and economic challenges to sustainability are evident in the recent controversy over a proposal for hydraulic fracturing in the Bousson Reserve. The campus landscape remains a place to be cherished, as alumni sing in the alma mater:
“Warm rests the sun, so soft on wall and vine;
No air in all the world can equal thine,
Again we flame our torches at thy shrine,
O, Alma Mater, Beatissima.”



Bentley Sycamore

Allegheny College has maintained a strong connection with the natural world from its beginnings in 1815. When Reverend Timothy Alden established his institution in Meadville, Pennsylvania, he wanted to tame the wilderness of northwestern…

Office of Sustainability

Located in the Physical Plant, the Office of Sustainability coordinates and promotes the various sustainability initiatives on campus. Allegheny College recognizes its responsibility to pursue sustainability as an integral part of its mission.…

Circle of Pines

In 1873, the members of Allegheny College’s graduating class planted a circle of pine trees between present-day Ford Chapel and Newtown Observatory. A tree was planted for each of the fifteen members of the graduating class. Despite the name, the…

Alumni Gardens

The present landscaping outside of Schultz Hall is the remnant of the more extensive Alumni Gardens that were planted in late 1930s. The Alumni Gardens occupied the south end of campus, an area that once served as a dump and compost heap, hidden by a…

Bicentennial Plaza

The Bicentennial Plaza was built on the lawn area in front of Schultz Banquet Hall using a combination of brick and bluestone pavers, echoing the entrances to Bentley Hall and the Tippie Alumni Center. At 40 by 80 feet, the main plaza is a versatile…

Rustic Bridge and Lower Ravine

For years the lower ravine was utilized as a disposal site and the location for the Allegheny College campus’ large privy. The introduction of indoor plumbing to the campus in the 1880s and 1890s necessitated the removal of the pungent structure. …

Upper Ravine and Lake George

The upper ravine, wedged between Ruter and Bentley Halls, was a popular site for some construction projects in the late nineteenth century. In the 1880s, the road over the ravine between Bentley and Ruter Hall had been widened and raised. The process…

Carr Hall of Science

In 1959, Allegheny alumnus Ossian E. Carr offered a large monetary gift to Allegheny College allowing plans for the construction of a new science building to go forward. Construction on Carr Hall began in spring 1963 and by the fall of 1964, the…

North Village II

In 2008, the planning and designing process began for a new residence hall on Allegheny College’s campus, necessitated by the continued growth of the school. North Village II was designed to advance the College’s commitment to sustainability by…

Vukovich Center for Communication Arts

The Vukovich Center for Communication Arts is where the theater and communication arts departments are located. President Cook (1996-2009) received the funds to start construction on campus with the goal of creating an eco-friendly campus the…

Bousson Mansion

Very little remains at the site of the former Bousson mansion, on their property near Frenchtown, but at one time this elegant home was the center of social life. The Bousson family story begins in the village of Foncine-le-Bas in France. In the…

Bousson Environmental Research Reserve

Bousson Environmental Research Reserve is located in Frenchtown, PA about seven miles from Allegheny College. The history of Bousson includes events that gave it a very good name, and events that nearly destroyed it. While the Bousson family lived…