The fall color of the Japanese Zelkova.

The library staff has been working on a project to update Trees of Centenary, a 1990s dendrological* survey done by Dr. Lewis Parrish, the former department head of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Centenary.


The tree cataloger and photographer consult the original Trees of Centenary.

Parrish’s book is a compilation of every tree on the Centenary campus, but that information is over twenty years old. The archives staff have taken on the task of updating Trees of Centenary to reflect the  foliage of the current campus. So far, the project has created an inventory of all trees on the north side of campus, including most of the trees listed in Dr. Parrish’s book. The south side of campus will be more challenging as there was no survey done of these trees, and complete identification will have to be done from scratch.


An excerpt from the rough draft map of the Jefferson Lawn, south side.

How is this task being accomplished? First, every tree in Trees of Centenary was listed and separated by location. The campus was broken down into sections, and each section was given its own hand-drawn map. Then, staff members took the book and the maps and made, well, a mess (see the rough draft map at right). Each tree was numbered, plotted, and matched to a tree from the book. This proved to be difficult because some of the trees mentioned in the 1990s survey are now gone, claimed by disease or death, and new trees have been planted since the survey’s publication.

Realizing a more orderly system was needed, the rough draft map from each portion was input into excel spreadsheets, which became the basis of our new interactive map!


The fall color of the Green Ash.

This map shows the location of each tree and includes a description and photos, just like the original Trees of Centenary. 

There is still much to be done, and the library hopes to have the entire campus cataloged by Spring 2017. During the winter all the evergreens will be recorded while the remaining deciduous trees will be classified in Spring 2017. Staff will also be taking pictures of the trees in each season. This year’s fall color went by too quickly, but there’s always next year!

*Dendrological: adj., Having to do with the botanical study of trees and other woody plants.



campus 1909

Centenary Collegiate Institute c. 1910

Before the campus of Centenary College was built in Hackettstown, the land it now sits on was a cornfield, described during the laying of the cornerstone in 1869 as “desolate – not a tree – not a shrub” (Custard, pg 10). In fact, the town hadn’t yet grown to reach the campus. There was no street in front of the grounds and Church Street, which runs from Main Street directly to the college, was not yet opened. Shortly after opening, the grounds were beautified with the planting of over 200 trees and 800 shrubs. Only a few years later, the lawn seemed “like a very pleasure garden” (Custard, pg 57).

The campus had a broad representation of ornamental species, thanks to the work of early arborists. Over the years, some species have died away due to harsh weather or other natural causes, and the campus has gained some newer plantings. In the spring of 1954 Mrs. Marjorie T. Bingham, instructor of biology, directed a project to mark the trees of Centenary with small metal plates giving the name of the species. This project recorded over 40 varieties of trees. In the 1990s, another survey was done of the trees on campus and printed into a booklet called The Trees of Centenary. A joint effort by members of the Centenary community, it listed all the trees on campus that could be identified and included several photographs of leaves and bark.

gray birchHeading the publication was Professor Lewis T. Parrish, then professor/department chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Parrish, who came to Centenary in 1959, was a pillar among Centenary’s faculty for over 3 decades and came to Centenary with a well-rounded resume. He had previously held jobs as a metallurgist, meat packer, haberdasher, farmer, and a US history and mathematics teacher.

japanese cherry

At Centenary he was the head of the Science Club, participated in Faculty vs. Student sports like bowling and softball, received grants to study genetics and biology, advised one of the sororities, and was a member of several faculty panels. Professor Parrish was in awe of the flora around campus and hoped creating The Trees of Centenary would benefit those who loved it as well.

Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 -1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc, 1947. Print.