Peabody Park in 1902By Professor Melville V. Fort
IF THE MISSION OF ART is to cultivate the power to perceive and to appreciate the beautiful, and, if nature is the source of all art, can there be found a more natural or a more pleasing method of cultivating this power than to lead the student into the beauties of nature?
With art as our schoolmistress, then we shall find a fitting school-room in our Educational Park. We may be immersed in beauty and have eyes that see not, but still our esthetic nature is unconsciously developed by beautiful environment. It is only the uncultivated mind that cannot find
“Sermons in stones, books in the running brooks, and good in everything.”
One hundred and thirty acres are ours to roam over at will; seventy acres of it in virgin forest where we may become acquainted with the templed groves of noble trees—the spreading beech, the fringed pines, the stately poplar, and oaks of various kinds.
The birds will sing and the flowers bloom to make glad our leisure hours. We take pains to watch over the working hours of our students; is it not as wise that we give some direction to their hours of recreation?
The beauties of nature are open alike to all—rich and poor, great and small; our roads are free, the air and sunshine, sunrise and sunset, are to be had without the asking, and can be enjoyed by thousands who are not permitted to see them put upon canvas by a Turner or a Claude.
“Beauty seen is never lost,
God’s colors are all fast;
The glory of this sunset heaven
Into my soul has passed.”
Mother Nature has done what she could with the hills and valleys, woods and plains, to charm us and lift us out of this work-a-day world of ours, and now, through one of our own students, Miss Kitty Dees, Manning Brothers, Landscape Gardeners of Boston, are to smooth out the rough places for us, make that which is beautiful more beautiful, by putting in a walk here and there, cutting away this, cultivating that, until we find that what we have called useless weeds, we only called such because we had not discovered their beauties. It will be a sort of re-creation of nature to secure ever increasing harmonies.
In this beautiful park, knowledge shall be wedded to art, for through the coming years as ever changing generations of students pass in and out through its winding walks, they shall be reminded by the chiseled statues and playing fountains, easy seats and unsculped stones, of the inspiring work and consecrated lives of North Carolina’s great educational benefactors, like Archibald D. Murphy, Calvin H. Wiley, Elisha Mitchell, David Caldwell, William Bingham, James Horner, and a score of others to whom these beautiful memorials shall be dedicated and whose memory they shall keep green through the snows and blighting frosts of fleeting years.
Mr. George Foster Peabody’s generous gift of $5,000 to our park has made possible most of this work, and by his beneficence he has earned and will receive the everlasting gratitude of all lovers of our College.
It is fitting that our Educational Park should, at the request of Mr. Peabody, bear the name of the greatest educational benefactor of the South, that prince of princely philanthropists, George Peabody, who by his splendid gift of $3,000,000 to the schools of the war-rent, poverty-stricken Southland in 1867, embalmed his memory forever in Southern hearts.
[From The Decennial, published by the Adelphian and Cornelian Literary Societies of the State Normal and Industrial College, Greensboro North Carolina, 1902.]
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