The iconic iron gates at the Geddes entrance to Nichols Arboretum look brand new after a recent renovation by the University of Michigan department of facilities and operations and a local painting company. The gates were removed, sandblasted and dipped in a new coating off site, then reinstalled by F&O last week. The ironwork on the sides was also done.
That got us thinking: when were the gates built and installed—and who designed them? According to recently retired Matthaei-Nichols Director Bob Grese, the gates were created by U-M plant personnel and the columns built by U-M stone masons in the 1920s (back when universities had stone masons!). Bob did confirm a few dates: “Nichols Arboretum was so named by the Regents at their Jan. 27, 1923 meeting. A plaque was ordered to be placed at the entrance at the Regents meeting on Sept. 23, 1924, and the gates/columns were created/installed in 1926.” The photos show the newly refurbished gates, the gates circa 1926, and the boulder with the Nichols Arboretum plaque on it in 1924. Oh, and back then, you could drive into the Arb!
What we still don’t know is, who designed the gates? Anyone out there who might have an answer? Send your ideas and questions to
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Newly refurbished gates at the Geddes entrance to the Arb
Close up of newly refurbished gates at the Geddes entrance to the Arb
Geddes entrance with boulder-plaque
Nichols Drive 1907 with boulder and plaque