The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Donation to renovate philosopher's garden

By April DeJarlais

More construction is in Macalester’s future, but instead of a multi-story, multi-million dollar project, the campus can look forward to a relatively quick renovation of the “philosopher’s garden” area. Inspiration for the overhaul of the green space between the library and the Leonard Center stems from former Board of Trustees member Margaret Marvin ’39. Marvin, an active Macalester supporter, passed away in Jan. 2007 having left an unspecified gift to the college in her estate. The money went toward the construction of the Leonard Center. Though the funds were well used, the building lacked anything appropriate for a Marvin namesake, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre said.

Marvin’s family agreed that a garden was a better tribute than an athletic center, since Marvin was a gardener. Her family includes granddaughters Angela Marvin ’09, Christine Marvin ’03 and a daughter-in-law that was involved at Macalester as a parent.

“[The garden] is fitting to redo in honor of Margaret,” Hamre said.

The area is currently undedicated and has been deteriorating since its installation in 1989 with the Dewitt Wallace Library. Ground bricks are cracking and unlevel, and the lights were smashed last year, facilities director Mark Dickinson ’76 said. Due to the conditions of the garden, the facilities department has been planning to redo the area regardless of external funding for several years.

“We don’t want to let it get so bad that it’s dangerous,” Dickinson said.

Changes for the area are still unspecified. Plans under consideration are the leveling of the sunken area, replacement of the brick and lighting, and a general opening up of the plaza in order to increase its accessibility. There will also be more colorful plants added as homage to Marvin.

The garden is more of a pass through area than a destination, Hamre said, but the goal is to make it easier for students to walk through and open enough for a class to be held. The facilities department looks to add a bike rack and replace the stone benches with seating that could accommodate larger groups. While the basic design of the area will be the same, “it will be more than just spruced up,” Hamre said.

A possible addition to the garden is a gazebo from the class of 2004, which was not designated a location. The graduating class did not raise enough funds for the gazebo, so it has been in limbo since then along with several other class gifts, including 1992’s swing set and 2002’s outdoor basketball court. Class gifts in recent years have trended toward organization donations. The class of 2009’s gift will be a contribution to the Annual Fund, while 2008’s went toward campus sustainability efforts.

Construction on the philosopher’s garden is planned to begin after this year’s commencement, with completion expected in August. Dickinsonis planning for the landscape work to happen over the summer “to minimize distractions for students,” he said.

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