Central Ohio Tourism
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Dawes Arboretum

Dawes Arboretum

The Dawes Arboretum, located just south of Newark on SR 13 (Jacksontown Road, SE) and 3 miles north of I-70, is one of the premier public gardens in North America. The Arboretum is a non-profit organization devoted to providing access to world-class plant collections, hardy to central Ohio. The Arboretum provides a unique educational experience any time of the year. While most of the 15,000 plants are hardy to central Ohio, 4,500 are unique to Dawes. Over the years, records have been kept for each woody plant on the property including the specific location, scientific and common name as well as the origin and age of the plant.

Dawes Arboretum

Famous "Sky Writing" from ground level of the 2,040' long hedge lettering that spells out "Dawes Arboretum" located on the southeast corner of the arboretum. A 36' tall tower gives a better view of the dramatic hedges.

The Arboretum is divided up into sections such as the Japanese Garden, Deep Woods, Conifer section, magnolias, rhododendrons and so on, so visitors will have an enjoyable viewing experience no matter when they visit.

The original goal, and to a large extent, the continuing goal, was to encourage the planting of forest and ornamental trees, and demonstrate at the same time their value for both practical and scientific research in horticulture and agriculture. The result gives enjoyment for even the most casual visitor, but also provides immense educational opportunities that improves the general knowledge and love of trees and shrubs.

The Dawes Arboretum was founded by Beman Dawes and his wife Bertie in 1929. Berman's love of trees was just one of his passions. Together with his wife, who was a self-taught naturalist and gardener, created The Dawes Arboretum. The couple raised 5 children who later became the founding trustees of The Dawes Arboretum.

Beman Dawes

Beman Dawes was born in Marietta, Ohio and was named after his grandfather, Beman Gates who's unusual first name was actually a combination of two family names. Beman was the 3rd of 6 children born to Rufus and Mary Dawes. Rufus, who was a general in the Civil War, made sure his family received all the proper training and education to be unique and self-reliant individuals. Beman's great-great-grandfather was a patriot in the American Revolution and one of 2 individuals accompanying Paul Revere on his famous ride that later became immortalized in Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride."

Growing up in southern Ohio, Beman Dawes got an early appreciation of the value of lumber by working in his father's lumber business. During one of the major economic downturns of the late 19th Century, Rufus lost his lumber business and Beman left Ohio along with his older brother, Charles who had been hired by Ohio Governor Rufus Walton to take care of some of his holdings in the new town of Lincoln, Nebraska. While living there, Beman met and married Bertie Burr in 1894. After moving back to Ohio, Beman ran for the House of Representatives in 1904 and won re-election in 1906.

After his stint in congress, Beman became involved in the oil and electric railway industry. When the small oil business called Ohio Cities Gas Co. discovered oil in a wildcat strike in West Virginia the business was poised to become on of the nation's top 100 businesses.

Ohio Cities Gas Co. purchased another small oil company in New Jersey named Pure Oil. Thanks the input of Beman and the management help of his brothers, the new venture became a very successful business. In 1926 it was decided to move the headquarters from Columbus to Chicago, supposedly because one of the board member's wife, refused to live in what she called "that cow town Columbus". At that point Pure Oil was on a fast track to success and by the early 1960s, just a few years after Beman Dawes died, the company had become one of the 100 largest industrial corporations in America. Pure Oil disappeared from the landscape in 1965 when it was purchased by Union Oil.

Dawes Farm

Beman and Bertie were both somewhat frugal. Even with their newfound wealth, they remained firmly attached their roots. Rather than move to Chicago when the business moved its national headquarters from Columbus, Beman decided to stay in Central Ohio. Together they purchased a working farm and called it Daweswood. Over the years the couple increased their land holdings here and expanded the farm. Beman began purchasing trees to plant on his farm in areas that weren't being farmed and together with Bertie, the two amassed a large number of trees and other woody plants.

During his travels he would come across a magnificent large tree specimen and would buy it for replanting on his farm. In the early days of establishing his "tree farm", Became had some difficulty in relocating large trees to the farm. Many of his tree purchases soon died after planting from the stress of moving the plants. Rather than throw in the towel, Beman, who seemed to enjoy the challenge, began a nursery on the farm where smaller trees and seedlings could be established and then more easily transplanted.

In time an endowment fund was created for the perpetual operation of The Dawes Arboretum. Beman's brother, Brigadier General Charles Gates Dawes, also contributed to the endowment. Charles was Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929.

Dawes Arboretum Homestead

Once the Dawes family’s country home, the Daweswood House Museum contains a collection of 19th and 20th century antiques, collectibles and photographs that reflect the lifestyle and collecting interests of the founding family.

Dawes Arboretum

What to expect at the Arboretum?

The Arboretum provides access to a variety of ecosystems and native habitats through the 8 miles of walking trails that crisscross the 1700 acres. Don't feel like walking 8 miles? They also have a self-guided auto tour that gently winds through the major portions of the Arboretum with occasional pull-off to allow visitors to explore smaller portions of the grounds.

The Arboretum's displays of bonsai, azaleas, Japanese gardens, holly, crab apples, and the famous hedges of Dawes Arboretum make up the 15,000 species of plants found at the arboretum. With all this information and educational possibilities, you might think that Dawes Arboretum would be a dull place to spend an afternoon, but in truth, it is quite the contrary. It is a fun environment for family time.

Dawes Arboretum Tour

As you explore the grounds, you might take notice of how the grounds are arranged. Parts of the trees are arranged in straight rows, such as the orchards and the 17 buckeye trees. These were part of the original landscape layout and an older way of thinking of how things should be done. Today's landscape design suggest a more casual arrangement, and more interesting to view. One exception is the very large arborvitae hedge that spells out "Dawes Arboretum" that could probably be seen from a space shuttle.

Dawes Arboretum Visitor Center

Visitors Center

Besides providing souvenirs and food, there is a Nature Center located in the lower level of the Visitors Center which includes interactive displays, a working beehive and live animals, plus some splendid bird watching.

The Arboretum is open from dawn until dusk, except for major holidays. The Visitors Center and Gift Shop is open Monday - Saturday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Beeman Dawes

Daweswood House

Daweswood is the house that Bertie and Berman Dawes purchased around 1917 from the estate of John Brumback, the blacksmith and farmer that had originally built the house just after the Civil War. It was designed in the Italianate style of architecture. Soon after its purchase, the Dawes began an intensive modernization of the house including adding fireplaces instead of the wood burning stoves used to heat the house. The house is open for on weekends and for a small fee tours are conducted twice each day to view the 10 rooms and their furnishings, many of which were used by the family.

In the basement of the family home is what is called the Rathskeller. Here Beman used the room for smoking cigars and entertaining male guests. As the Arboretum became noted nationwide, the small room became the repository for the honorary digging shovels that dignitaries used to turn the first shovel of dirt for the planting. The guest was then invited to sign the plaster ceiling using the carbon from a burning candle to inscribe their initials.

Beman Dawes Grave

Dawes Memorial

Not farm from their beloved Daweswood Home, the Beman and Bertie Dawes Memorial was constructed while they were still alive and able to make certain the memorial reflected the lives they lived. Although the stone work was setup to accommodate not only themselves, they had also included crypts in the base of the granite for their children. However, after their parents were buried, it was decided that option would not be taken and instead the children are buried in se per ate plots around the memorial. The large central tomb is made of one large piece of granite that has been hollowed out to accommodate their caskets.

Dawes Tomb Inscription