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Before it was known as an arboretum, the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania was a private estate called Compton. As with any “country seat,” many hands were needed to keep things operating smoothly for the owners, John T. Morris (1847-1915) and his sister Lydia T. Morris (1849-1932). For forty-five years, from the Gilded Age through the Great Depression, the Compton estate was run by employees who planted the gardens, cooked meals, drove the limousine, served tea, milked cows, and paid bills.

Thanks to this workforce, the grounds were turned from barren to lush and the estate became a showplace. The author draws on her extensive study of historical documents and genealogical records to interpret the lives of Compton employees and associates during the early 1900s. New research findings and sources are included. Today, the Morris Arboretum is an internationally known public garden and educational institution.


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Date Posted: 04 November 2019