Lockerly Arboretum Foundation has served the Milledgeville and Middle Georgia community for over forty years as a public garden and educational resource. Founded in 1965 by Mr. E.J. Grassmann of Elizabeth, N.J., the foundation seeks to provide outstanding ecological, horticultural and historical education in order to promote preservation and stewardship of the environment, by fostering an understanding of and an appreciation for the natural world.
Rose Hill -
Richard J. Nichols, a merchant and prominent citizen of Milledgeville in the early 1800’s is said to have built a home on this site in 1839. The residence was a part of a large plantation in the community known as Midway. The name Rose Hill is said to have been given to the place because of an abundance of Cherokee Roses that grew at the site. Nichols died in 1849, and his estate was meticulously inventoried.
Daniel R. Tucker -
Daniel R. Tucker moved to the Midway community from Richland County, South Carolina, about 1830 and married Martha Goode. In 1850 he was one of the appraisers of R.J. Nichols’ estate. In January, 1851, he purchased the home known as Rose Hill from Nichols’ estate. Then in February of that year it was reported that the home of Daniel Tucker was “entirely consumed” by fire. Evidence suggests that Tucker built a new home (present-day Lockerly Hall) on the site in 1852. After Tucker’s death in 1878, the property passed through several hands and was the home of the Hollingshed family until 1928, when it was purchased by Reginald R. Hatcher.
Lockerly Hall -
The Hatchers renamed the house Lockerley, after an estate in Hampshire, England that was said to be the ancestral home of Mrs. Hatcher’s family. The Hatchers completed a number of renovations and improvements to the property including expansion of the landscape. In 1963, the house and grounds were sold to Mr. Edward J. Grassmann of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
E.J. Grassmann -
Mr. E.J. Grassmann established the Lockerly Arboretum Foundation in 1965. The spelling of the name, Lockerley, was changed at that time. The Lockerly grounds, about 26 acres at the time, were set aside as a public garden and horticultural education facility. A major restoration of the house was conducted at this time, and it was operated as a guest house for Mr. Grassmann’s corporate interests, the American Industrial Clay Company. The arboretum property was added to over the years, and the house eventually came to be owned by English China Clays plc. In 1998, the house was acquired by the arboretum and was opened to the public as a house museum.
Oliver N. Worley -
In 1999, Col. and Mrs. Oliver Worley donated 193 acres of land in Putnam Co, GA to Lockerly Arboretum Foundation and provided Lockerly with the resources to develop this property as a nature center. The Oliver N. Worley Outdoor Education Center is used for educational programs, Boy Scout programs, and Lockerly’s popular summer camp program.
Present and Future -
In 2005, Lockerly’s Board of Trustees adopted a Master Plan that serves as a guideline for future development and preservation of the site facilities and amenities. In 2008, Jim Garner became Lockerly’s Executive Director and began a major rehabilitation effort for the arboretum. Please come visit us to see all the many changes as Lockerly grows into the 21st century. Lockerly will remain a community supported resource and destination offering educational and recreational services related to the natural environment, history and conservation of the middle Georgia region.
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