History 1920-1960


The college acquires the Capen School and the Botanic Garden expands further. 

Capen House

The adjacent garden area, laid out as a series of outdoor garden rooms, is redesigned by Kate Ries Koch in 1921.

Capen Garden Hedge


Home Gardening classes are taught at Capen Garden

Home gardening class at Capen Garden


An additional garden room at Capen Garden is laid out and planted by Dorcus Brigham, assisted by the horticulture class. 


Dorothy May Anderson is appointed as the College's landscape architect.


William I. P. Campbell is hired as college horticulturist, and he stays for 34 years. Anderson and Campbell rework and expand the existing campus plan. Campbell continues Ganong's tradition of having students prepare plant material for two annual shows held at Lyman Plant House. Campbell's legacy is visible in the campus landscape today.

William I. P. Campbell

Campbell renovates and expands the Rock Garden, which had been neglected since Edward Canning's departure in 1914.

Rock Garden 1920s
Overgrown Rock Garden in the 1920s


The hurricane of 1938 destroys more than 200 trees in the campus arboretum.


The geneticist Albert Francis Blakeslee, renowned for pioneering chromosomal studies, comes to Smith.

Lab Group, 1947. Albert Francis Blakeslee (far right) and Sophie Satin (next to Blakeslee)


William Campbell takes over as College landscape architect when Dorothy Anderson leaves.

Victory Gardens are created on campus to help the war effort.

garden in front of the observatory


William Campbell takes over teaching horticulture classes, previously taught by Dorcus Brigham (Smith class of 1918).


Two greenhouses known as the Blakesee Range (also known as warm and cool genetics) are added to the Lyman Conservatory complex to support Blakeslee's research.

Continue to History 1960 to Today




But in time and with constant growth, it may yet come to pass that there will gather about the gardens of Smith College something of that charm which makes the gardens of Oxford almost sacred ground, where all that is dearest to vigorous and scholarly youth is associated with all that is most beautiful in man’s friendship with Nature.


William Francis Ganong, 1897
See Also: 

Capen Garden
Historic Publications

All archival photographs are courtesy of the Smith College Archives