Seeing History through the Trees: Celebrate National Arbor Day at MTSU with Walnut Grove

Written by Bradley Harjehausen, Graduate Assistant

Walnut Grove 1

In addition to paper and other products, oxygen, beauty and shade, trees provide a window into history. An example on the campus of MTSU is a group of trees, pictured above, called Walnut Grove that originally had its roots in Mount Vernon. Located between present-day Peck Hall and Cope Administration Building, the walnut trees were the result of Julius H. Bayer, then the university’s custodian of the property, visiting the home of George Washington in 1930. He collected fallen walnuts and subsequently planted them on campus, then known as Middle Tennessee State Teachers College.

Walnut Grove plaque_Cropped 2

Bayer was far from alone by transplanting Mount Vernon’s history, also including a community in Louisiana in 1932. He, however, is notable in being one of the first educators in the country to implement work-study for students. He paid students to pick fruits and vegetables as well as clean and maintain the dormitories (Sidelines, January 8, 1942). Oral histories discussing Bayer’s influence on the campus can be found on our website and more information about Arbor Day can be found on the Arbor Day Foundation’s website.

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