An Awareness, an Avowal - and an Appeal

By Lee Lattimer

Just this past summer, I visited three historic landmarks in Newport, RI, all former “summer cottages” of the 19th Century elite. The last home I toured was “The Elms,” completed in 1901 for Mr. Edward Berwind, who had made his fortune in coal. When his wife died in 1922, Edward’s sister Julia came to live there and inherited the house upon his death. When she died in 1961, the contents were auctioned off, and the house was sold to a developer who planned to raze the house and replace it with a parking lot. Fortunately, just weeks before demolition, “The Elms” was purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County. The house was refurbished and listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it was later designated a National Historic Landmark. This last minute rescue was yet another event that convinced me of the importance of preserving our country’s heritage, man-made or natural.

No doubt less architecturally distinguished than “The Elms,” the George Landis Arboretum is another such place that must be preserved for current and future generations.

Many years ago, my appreciation of the Arboretum became a determination. I vowed that whatever talents I possessed would be directed to protecting this local natural treasure. Since then, I have worked at many plant sales, assisted with classes, photographed Landis’ wonders, and investigated its history. I enjoy being a member of the Communications Committee, writing and editing articles for this newsletter. Most recently, I was honored to become a member of the Arboretum’s Board of Trustees.

I look forward to my responsibilities as a new Board member, especially the opportunity to celebrate the Arboretum’s past, a task that comes to me naturally as a historian. I am planning to assemble a display of artifacts associated with Fred Lape, George Landis, LeVan Loveland, and others tied to the Arboretum’s history. I would be interested in any pictures, documents, letters, books, etc., that might enhance the display, particularly photos of George Landis or Van Loveland. If you can help, please contact the Arboretum at 518-875-6935 or by email at

Winter 2016

Volume 34 , Number 1

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