An Historical Timeline of the Landis Arboretum

By Lee Lattimer

It has been over 100 years since the Lape Family, father Herman, mother Emma and son Fred, took up residence on Oak Nose Farm in Esperance, NY. Many changes have taken place since then – some joyous, some saddening. This is a timeline of the most significant events in the history of the Arboretum. The first 50 years center around Fred and his family. Then the focus shifts from the Lapes to the George Landis Arboretum, founded by Fred in 1951.

Please note that due to space restrictions, the list of events is hardly complete. But please contact us through email at or phone at 518-875-6935 if you have any suggestions or corrections.

1820 or 1830:

Farmhouse and barn built.

1900, August 20:

Fred Lape born in Holland Patent, NY, to Herman and Emma Lape.


Family moved to Esperance. Oak Nose Farm purchased in 1903.


Fred Lape goes to Altamont High School. Family moves to village to shorten his commute. Farm now rented out.


Fred Lape earns degree in English at Cornell University.


Fred Lape begins teaching at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.


Fred returns to the now-vacant Oak Nose Farm


Fred attracts artist and writer crowd and oversees reforestation of western boundary.


Fred Lape starts a part-time teaching position at RPI. Friendship with Harriet Peck and George Landis begins.


Herman Lape dies in typhoid epidemic.


Great White Oak and many other trees severely damaged in ice storm.

Late 1941 or 1942:

​ Fred Lape applies for conscientious objector status, consequently losing his job at RPI. He decides to farm for his livelihood: sheep, cows, chickens, vegetables. Sells butter in the village.


While building and landscaping a home for George Landis, Fred and George get the idea of starting an arboretum at Oak Nose Farm. Plantings begin.

1950, December 5:

George Landis dies accidentally, leaving most of his estate to Fred, who quits farming and puts full time into developing an arboretum: 50 acres of trees and shrubs.

Fred begins studying taxonomy with various experts with help from Arie Kruik, a horticulturist who works two seasons at the Arboretum with his wife, painter Cock van Gent.


Arboretum named for George Landis, the "friend who had made it all possible both in life and in death." Friendship started with LeVan Loveland, banker, flower gardener, financial advisor. ​


Emma Lape dies, freeing Fred Lape to travel and to spend many winters in warmer climes, mostly Mexico. Van Loveland becomes a “fixture” at the Arboretum.

1960s and 70s:

The halcyon days of the Arboretum.


Arboretum deeded to Corporation.

1967, November 18:

Provisional Charter granted by NYS Regents and incorporated as an educational institution to operate and maintain Arboretum.

1967, November 29:

IRS grants 501(c) 3 status to Arboretum.


Lawns let go, gas too expensive. Lape and Loveland getting old.

1971, October 29:

Absolute Charter granted.


LeVan Loveland dies in Mexico, buried at Jocotepec. Fred Lape inherits estate of Van Loveland, but money is not enough to make up for the loss of Van’s labor. The decline of the Arboretum’s grounds, already begun, is hastened

1982, January:

First issue of the Arboretum’s newsletter

1982, April:

The Great White Oak adopted as logo.

1982, Summer:

Fireproof library/herbarium building completed.

1983, October:

NYS local initiative grant for conference center construction.

1985, March 1:

Fred Lape dies in Mexico, buried at Jocotepec.


George Landis Conference Center (currently referred to as Meeting House) completed.

1998, May:​

Fred Breglia starts as Head Horticulturist and Operations Manager.


Barn totally renovated including new walls, foundation.

1998 – 1999:

Arboretum grounds are rehabilitated – are in the best shape in many years.

1999 – 2000:

Planting of new trees, first time in many years. Grounds continue to improve.


First plantings in Ed Miller’s Native Plant Trai

2011, April:

Fred Breglia becomes Director.

2011, August:

Great White Oak is further damaged by Hurricane Irene, considered lifeless in spring of 2013.

2012 – 2013:

Meeting House renovated including new windows, flooring, and deck.

2017, Summer:

Barn repainted.

2017, August:

New windows installed in Farmhouse

2018, Spring:

Welcome center with siding, electrical work, and flooring, completed.


Greenhouse renovations completed.

Fall 2018

Volume 36 , Number 4

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