Aging gazebo at Community Arboretum rebuilt with support of fundraising campaign

Virginia Western Community College > News from Virginia Western > Campus News > Aging gazebo at Community Arboretum rebuilt with support of fundraising campaign

After two-plus years of planning and fundraising, the picturesque gazebo has been rebuilt at the Community Arboretum at Virginia Western.

Construction wrapped up in the days prior to Christmas 2021. Clark BeCraft, Horticulture Program coordinator, has worked closely with volunteers, donors and school officials to see the project through.

“We are grateful for all of the supporters who have worked to bring back this beautiful anchor to the Arboretum,” BeCraft said.

A commemorative celebration marking the completion of the gazebo is planned for late spring 2022, BeCraft said.

Virginia Western students constructed the wooden gazebo a couple of years prior to the garden’s official dedication in 1993. In the years since then, numerous weddings and musical performances have been staged at the structure, which serves as a focal point of the Arboretum.

BeCraft couldn’t take advantage of student labor this time around due to regulations regarding construction on state property. The project is estimated to cost $175,000. So far, $62,196 has been raised in private donations. That support included a $25,000 matching gift from the Hipp family, to honor former Horticulture director Lee Hipp.

Members of the Arboretum’s volunteer advisory board have led a fundraising campaign that includes the ongoing sales of engraved concrete pavers that will go on the floor of the gazebo and the ground around it. So far, 130 pavers have been sold but plenty more are available.

Engraved paver options include:

  • $1,000  for an 8 X 8 paver (engraved paver will be placed under roof of gazebo. Includes certificate and small keepsake replica paver)
  • $500 for a 4 X 8 paver (engraved paver will be placed under roof of gazebo; includes certificate)
  • $250 for a 4 X 8 paver (engraved paver will be placed under roof of gazebo)
  • $150 for a 4 X 8 paver (engraved paver will be placed around the outside of the gazebo)

To purchase a paver, visit: https://www.virginiawestern.edu/foundation/give-to-the-arboretum/ or contact BeCraft at cbecraft@virginiawestern.edu.

Many Arboretum visitors mistakenly assume that taxpayers cover the attraction’s upkeep, according to BeCraft. When the Commonwealth of Virginia originally donated the two acres of the Virginia Western campus for the Arboretum, organizers agreed to raise the money to build the gardens and maintain them. The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the College, oversees the fundraising campaign.

Until now, proceeds from popular plant sales and membership fees to the Friends of the Arboretum program mostly covered the attraction’s day-to-day expenses. Updating several aging areas of the Arboretum will require additional funding sources.  “We need more money to take the Arboretum into the next 25 years,” BeCraft said.

By the time the Community Arboretum reaches its 30th anniversary, BeCraft hopes the new gazebo will be in place and three of the 11 gardens will be renovated.

Virginia Western horticulture students led the charge in the 1980s to create a public garden for the College and the public. Individuals, business owners and organizations in the Roanoke Valley raised $150,000 over a decade for the construction of the Arboretum. 

The public is welcome to visit the Arboretum from sunrise to sunset. It includes eleven separate gardens and plant collections which are home to approximately 700 labeled plant taxa.


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