Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Glen Helen Ecology Institute

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Institution Name: Antioch College
Original/Historic Place Name: Glen Helen Nature Preserve
Location on Campus: 300 Corry St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1929establishment Unknown
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Distinct topography:
Deeply cut ravines and spectacular geologic formations, such as a rock column known as Pompey's Pillar.
Constructed water features:
Large-scale features:
The iron-laden spring that gives the town its name was landscaped into its current form in 1941; a system of trails includes footbridges and stairways built into the landscape.
Other characteristics:
Neolithic burial mound; remnants of mid-19th-century hotel and water cure spa.
ca. 1803-1845other (farming)
ca. 1845-1870other (hotel and resort area)
1929-present (2007)outdoor space (nature preserve, outdoor and environmental education)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (raptor rehabilitation)

Significance: history, landscape
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Glen Helen was the area's center of settlement from 1803 until the mid-1840s. It became a resort area due to its location at the Yellow Spring site, and a hotel associated with the spring existed until the 1870s. During the 1820s a group of Swedenborg Owenites briefly ran the hotel as a utopian community, and a water cure spa existed here until it burned in 1862. One of its last tenants was a commune called the Memnonia Institute, operated by the famous reformers Thomas and Mary Gove Nichols.

Glen Helen has one of the oldest milling sites in Greene County (rights since 1816), and a decaying 1840s gristmill still remains. Vestiges of limestone quarries, the town's most important industry during the nineteenth century, are still visible as well. A group of about 30 former slaves settled there after being brought to Yellow Springs in 1863 to be freed by their master's abolitionist son, the Rev. Moncure D. Conway. Around 1900 a creek was dammed to create a boating lake. Alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch, an attorney and conservationist, acquired the Glen and surrounding farmland, and in 1929 the 1,000-acre plot was given to Antioch as a nature preserve in memory of his daughter, Helen Birch Bartlett. Under Antioch management, Glen Helen became an important open-air laboratory for developing outdoor education programs.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Dober, Richard P. Campus Design. New York: Wiley, 1992.

Dober, Richard P. Campus Landscape: Functions, Forms, Features. New York: Wiley, 2000.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices

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Last update: November 2006