Physical Plant - Arboretum
Bluethenthal Wildflower Preserve
In the fall of 1972, several of UNC Wilmington's biologists were concerned over the "progress" the university was making. New buildings, roads and parking lots necessary for the institution to grow had begun to invade its valuable natural areas. An area of particular concern was a meandering nature trail that began near Hoggard Hall and flowed east. Since 1964 this trail had been used by the faculty to teach students about ecological principles and to familiarize them with native plants and animals, but campus expansion reduced the trail to half its original size. However, on the portion that remained thrived the most diverse collection of native plants found anywhere on campus.
The prospect of completely losing the nature trail to development prompted the biologists to draft a formal proposal to Chancellor William Wagoner. In their November 30, 1972, proposal, they state that "if encroachment on this last area is to be prevented, steps must be taken immediately to dedicate it as an inviolate preserve." They requested that the approximately ten acres surrounding the nature trail be dedicated as a wildflower preserve by the University's Board of Trustees and be "forever protected from all other uses." The Trustees supported this action and officially set aside the land in 1973.
The Preserve's association with the Bluethenthal family came as a result of the friendship between Janet Bluethenthal and Chancellor Wagoner. Mrs. Bluethenthal lived across the street from the Chancellor's residence, Kenan House. During one of their frequent conversations, she discussed her desire to give to the University in honor of her late husband Herbert. Knowing Mrs. Bluethenthal had a fondness for native wildflowers, and keeping in mind the desires of the Biology Department, Dr. Wagoner saw the opportunity for a wonderful union. He presented her the Wildflower Preserve proposal, and she agreed to its objectives. Mrs. Bluethenthal then generously gave her time and money to help with its establishment. On November 8, 1974, the old nature trail was officially dedicated as the Herbert Bluethenthal Memorial Wildflower Preserve.
As you walk the cypress and pine covered trails, marvel at the insect consumption of pitcher plants, or relax to a symphony of song birds, say a little thank you to Mrs. Bluethenthal and the members of the University with the foresight to protect this wonderful woodland habitat. Because of their vision and action, we will forever have this natural gem.