A most beautiful heritage
By Mike Harris '93 MA, UNCG Magazine assistant editor
Photography By David Wilson, assistant photography editor
Narration by Tara-Whitney Rison, MFA student

Every month of the year, students comment on the beauty of campus. A naturally beautiful campus has been a part of the student experience since the beginning of our university.

The original plan for College Avenue was a grand one: a boulevard lined with trees. Nationally recognized landscape artist Warren Manning — who gave his talents to more than 1,500 projects, from Cornell to the Biltmore Estate, from the Chicago World's Fair to Princeton — drew plans for an unobstructed view from the railroad all the way to Peabody Park.

“The principal buildings have been arranged on either side of the esplanade,” Manning said. He focused on “the full value of the long vista.”

Ultimately Curry Building was built in 1926, blocking the view of campus he wanted train passengers to enjoy. But the one-time public school building, one of 13 structures on campus designed by noted architect Harry Barton, provides us an ideal focal point from College Avenue looking southward.

The campus' natural features were always top-of-mind for Manning. “The plan of the Institution is governed by the topography,” he wrote in 1902. “The long boulevard follows the summit of the ridge.”

Today, on that boulevard on the campus' highest ground, students enjoy a well-used pedestrian thoroughfare lined with trees and ornamentals just as Manning had envisioned.

And the campus gets a little greener and more beautiful all the time. UNCG became the first Arbor Day Foundation “Tree Campus USA” in the UNC system in 2009. For every tree that has to come down, more are planted.

Last year, UNCG received the highest level of recognition for grounds management, the Grand Award of the Professional Grounds Management Society Green Star Awards. UNCG was the only urban university in the nation to get this honor.

In recent decades, Charlie Bell, the campus' first grounds superintendent, and more recently Chris Fay, from 1987 to this summer, have led the grounds staff in improving the campus' appearance. Chancellors including Bill Moran, Patricia Sullivan and Linda Brady have supported the effort. And students and the campus community do their part as well — pulling out invasive weeds in Peabody Park, conducting stream clean ups and taking part in tree plantings throughout the year.

Many generations before us have given us this gift of place — where we learn, grow, cherish memories and create new ones. It's a special place, as many incoming students see from the start. And nearly all have come to realize before they leave with their degrees.

Enjoy a Spartan Stories article on Warren Manning's work on our campus.

Share your best memory of the campus — or your favorite spots — by emailing beth_english@uncg.edu.