Zeph Stickney Helmreich, College Historian, shares this history of the orchard’s site.
“Wheaton College was built on what had been a large farm, and remained home to a vegetable garden and several orchards from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. South of Mary Lyon Hall, an orchard flourished until 1911, when the Science hall (now Knapton Hall) was constructed. A Bowling alley, the gift of Eliza Baylies Wheaton, was built in the midst of the orchard in 1884, and students enjoyed many a private conversation while wandering amongst the trees. Grapes and apples were harvested, preserved, and served at table.
The garden was maintained up until the 1940s. Its fresh produce supplied the 20 people who lived on campus during the summer, and thousands of seedlings were sold to local residents. Enough vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, onions, squash, cauliflower, soy beans, cabbage, turnips, parsnips and celery, were harvested to support the college’s needs throughout the entire academic year.
The apple tree is immortalized on our College Seal. The rich foliated tree bearing golden apples in the center of the seal symbolizes the tree of Life with its fruits of Knowledge and Achievement. The heritage apple Maiden Blush most closely resembles our symbolic tree.
The current initiative of re-establishing orchards and supporting local produce thus takes us back to the founding of Wheaton Seminary in 1834.”