PULLMAN, Wash. — Many have seen it, but few know its history.
Washington State University was founded in 1890 and opened its doors in 1892. It came to WSU in 1893.
WSU President V. Lane Rawlins says its home is his favorite place on campus.
It’s the Lowell Elm, growing on the lawn, next to the Senior Bench, close to Hello Walk, on the west side of Bryan Hall.
WSU expert Bob Smawley of the WSU Alumni Association said Harriett Bryan, wife of WSU President Enoch Bryan, 1892-1915, planted the tree in 1893.
Before the Bryans came to Pullman from Harvard University, they toured the Cambridge, Mass., estate of James Russell Lowell, American poet, critic and editor. She was given a “few tiny elm seedlings, which she nurtured during the 3,000 mile journey” to the WSU campus. “The Lowell Elm is the adult of one of those seedlings,” Smawley said.
Adds Rawlins, “It is a beautiful tree but, more than that, it is a tie to the best of our tradition and history…”
During the Cougar Pride Days kickoff event, starting at 11a.m.on March 26, the 110th anniversary of planting the Lowell Elm Tree will be celebrated on the west lawn of Bryan Hall. At that event, a new Lowell Elm will be dedicated. It was planted in 1998 and is a cutting from the historic Lowell Elm.
The new Lowell Elm is thanks to Kappy Brun, WSU grounds supervisor with Facilities Operations, and Chuck Cody, plant growth facilities manager with the WSU School of Biological Sciences.
Brun contacted Cody because the Lowell Elm is nearing the end of its life expectancy. Due to the Lowell Elm’s historical significance, they decided to try and grow some clonal material from its cuttings.
Cody took cuttings in 1993, used rooting hormone, and grew them in the School of Biological Sciences greenhouse on the roof of Abelson Hall until the tree was big enough to place in a large container. For several years, he moved container outside on the west side of Eastlick Hall every summer and into the glassed in walkway between Abelson and Heald Halls every winter.
In 1998, the tree was large enough and was, without ceremony, planted outside on the lawn, the near WSU Veteran’s Memorial.
Visit Web site, www.wsu.edu/cougar-pride-days, for Cougar Pride Days information and to sign-up online as a volunteer.