Pennsylvania’s official arboretum celebrates its 125th Anniversary this weekend

The Commonwealth’s official arboretum turns 125 this year. To mark the anniversary of the purchase of the Compton Mansion and gardens, the Morris Arboretum will host a special event entitled “Morris Arboretum presents Circus Comes to Compton,” this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The “Compton” mansion was purchased in 1887 by John and Lydia Morris as a summer home. The Morrises were a wealthy Victorian Family that owned an iron-manufacturing company. In their spare time, they traveled the world incorporating foreign plants and flowers in their garden. They also began a tradition of including sculptures in their garden, which continues today. George Rickey’s sculpture “Two Lines” marks the site of the former mansion site, which will be outlined by chalk to allow visitors to walk through the mansion.

It is through the siblings’ vision that the Compton became the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in 1932. It is also recognized as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In 1988, The FLAGSHIP OF PENNSYLVANIA ACT made it official.

Establishment of official arboretum of Pennsylvania. s Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties and consists of 166 acres.

The Morris Arboretum, which has been recognized as a unique cultural resource and is the oldest, most extensive curated collection of trees and shrubs cultivated for scientific and educational purposes for study and propagation in this Commonwealth, is hereby selected, designated and adopted as the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Marie Ingegneri, marketing project coordinator, said the event is a “huge combo platter” that will give attendees the opportunity to envision what it was like to live in the 1800s through various activities.

“The kids can juggle, which certainly happened back in that time period, playing songs and walking the tight wire to just have fun related [events] and on the back-end, you are learning something too,” said Ingegneri.

Guests are also encouraged to participate in the “Family Fit and Fun Day” sponsored by 900AM-WURD, which will include a hula hoop contest, yoga, guided tours and health screenings.

Ingegneri said Morris Arboretum will host more events for the remainder of the year for the anniversary.

General admission costs $16, $14 for seniors and $7 for children between the age of 3 and 17. Children under the age of 3 are free.

For more information, go to

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal