Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum Announced

Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum Announced
Mayor Zack Tyndall joins Taylor House Museum board members Dr. Donna Main, Melissa Reid and Jack Orris to celebrate the new Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN– A new designation at the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum pays homage to a revered local woman known for her dedication to science.

On Saturday, the Taylor House Museum announced the creation of the Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum. The designation makes the lawn of the museum, which contains several significant trees, the first arboretum in Worcester County.

“It’s a really wonderful way to honor someone who dedicated her life to botany,” said Donna Main, a member of the museum’s board.

Saturday’s announcement came after the Taylor House Museum received accreditation as an arboretum earlier this year. Main said the museum’s connections were looking for a way to show appreciation to the Humphreys Foundation when the arboretum concept came up. Humphreys, a longtime Baker Street resident, was a retired biology professor known for her interest in birds and botany. Though she passed away in 2009, the community foundation she started in 1998 to support local charities continues to provide much needed financial assistance to local nonprofits. At the Taylor House Museum, in recent years the foundation helped fund a new roof, porch replacement, and a new handicap ramp, among other projects.

By memorializing the lawn as an arboretum, museum officials felt they’d be honoring Humphreys with a project she’d have loved.

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“The purpose of the Dr. Mary Humphreys Arboretum, located on the property of the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, an 1830s House Museum administered by the Berlin Heritage Foundation, is to celebrate the life of a local, lifelong Berlin resident who distinguished herself in the 1930s, earning a master’s and doctoral degree from Duke University and working as a botany professor at Mary Baldwin College from 1943 to 1968,” read the museum’s arboretum application. “Dr. Humphreys was a founding member of the Berlin Heritage Foundation, and her knowledge and appreciation of trees and wildlife continue to inspire local residents.”

An inventory of the trees on the property shows that a variety of key species are represented. The lawn is home to two southern magnolia trees and also includes silver, red and sugar maple trees. Sycamore, scarlet oak and tulip trees are also present.

“We don’t have a big property with a lot of trees but we have significant trees,” Main said.

Now that the property has been designated an arboretum, the docents will be trained to include information about the trees in their talks about the museum. The facility will also celebrate the arboretum annually and ensure the public continues to have access to the lawn to appreciate the trees.

Museum officials are hopeful the designation honors the memory of Humphreys and also inspires interest in trees among citizens. Main said it would remind people of the importance of trees.

“They’re not just beautiful and majestic to look at but they improve air quality and provide shade,” Main said. “Getting the arboretum status guarantees that we will maintain the property to a higher level and help education people about the importance of trees.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.