Historic preservation has always been a priority at the Morris Arboretum, and now with an endowment for Historic Preservation, several key projects have been completed this year.

Log Cabin

John and Lydia Morris originally built the log cabin as a garden retreat in 1908. They used it to entertain friends, and Lydia spent many hours on the porch enjoying the stream and woodlands. With its river-stone cobble chimney, the cabin is similar in style to those often built in the Adirondacks. The building was cool in the summer, and provided the warmth of a fireplace in the winter. Today, the serene location with its adjacent babbling brook continues to delight visitors, but the shady, damp environment can result in faster than normal deterioration to the structure.


This spring, many deteriorating logs, especially on the lower courses and around the perimeter of the deck were replaced using Canadian hemlock that was harvested in northern Michigan. The work was completed by Intensified Wood Restorations of Munising, MI, a firm that specializes in environmentally friendly log home restorations. Previous renovations were completed in the mid-1990s, but more extensive work was needed this time. In September the floor will be replaced with Douglas Fir that is 1 ½ inches thick, just like the original type of flooring that was used in the era when the log cabin was built.


Log Cabin Before

Log Cabin After


Tom Wilson, Morris Arboretum’s Director of Physical Facilities said about this project, “Thank you to the donors who chose a single structure at the Arboretum and made sure that their gift would accomplish the renovation in its entirety.” (This restoration is generously supported by Joan N. Brantz in loving memory of her husband, George M. Brantz).


The Summer House

The Summer House resides at the edge of the Rose Garden and serves as a lovely open air, shady spot to sit and enjoy the garden under cover. The roof of the Summer House was in need of restoration. The cedar shake roofing was replaced, while maintaining the patina copper cupola and the weather vane which can now spin again, having greased its rusted axel.

Summer House Before

Summer House After


Love Temple

Another beloved structure is the Love Temple at the Swan Pond. The Swan Pond was designed and installed in 1905 by John Morris and Japanese designer Mr. Y. Muto. The inspiration for the Swan Pond likely came from the popular 18th century landscape design style of the English Romanic landscape which often included a classical temple reflected at the water’s edge. Sculptured of white marble, it was modeled after the plans of Vitruvius, the Augustan student of architecture. This summer the entire Love Temple was cleaned, removing weathering, mildew and moss. All of the joints and cracks were re-caulked, and loose banisters were replaced by Kreilick Conservation LLC (who also maintain the Mercury Loggia).

Love Temple Before

Love Temple After


Without a Historic Preservation Endowment and other facility endowments, these projects would not be possible. Income from these endowments is restricted to the ongoing maintenance and restoration of Morris Arboretum’s historic features and structures.