Evergreen Lawn and Perkins Center for the Arts
Download a PDF of the map and self guided tour of the Arboretum at Evergreen Lawn.
A History of the Arboretum and Grounds
The property surrounding Perkins Center for the Arts was first established by Joseph French and John Perkins as Fairview Nurseries in 1815. Initially, the nursery specialized in fruit growing and native trees and shrubs, later in their history they began to carry ornamental trees. According to oral tradition, the large pines and hemlocks on the Perkins property are believed to date from the nursery’s existence. Today, the arboretum surrounding Perkins Center for the Arts is maintained by the Moorestown Garden Club and Moorestown Township.
The home on the property was built in 1910 by Herbert C. Wise, a noted Philadelpihia architect and one of the three founding editors of House and Garden Magazine. A wedding gift to Alice Sullivan and Dudley Perkins from Dudley’s parents, the home is built in the Tudor Revival style inspired by English manor homes of the 15th and 16th centuries. The couple had one son, Dudley Jr. Sadly, Dudley Sr. died of influenza during the epidemic that occurred after WWI. Soon after Alice Perkins invited her sister, Mable and husband Francis D’Olier to live with her at Evergreen Lawn.
In or around 1930, the carriage house was built behind the home. Built in the Craftsman style, the lower level served as a garage and the upper level as an apartment. The same year, the second level porch at the original home was enclosed into a sleeping porch and the circular driveway was removed. The extended family had many happy years at Evergreen Lawn.
The family bred dogs on the property (first St. Bernards, then Cocker Spaniels), Francis D’Olier raised homing pigeons, and a Victory Garden was maintained for a number of years.The buildings were bequeathed to Moorestown Township in 1965 by Mable D’Olier and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Perkins Center has a multi-year lease. To learn more about the history of our buildings and how Perkins Center started, click here.
Today Perkins Center and it’s arboretum are home to programs reaching an audience of over 28,000 annually. As a regional arts center with facilities in Moorestown and Collingswood, Perkins Center for the Arts is recognized through out the state for innovative programs, bringing professional artists and community members together in an instructional and creative arts environment. These on-site and outreach programs specialize in teaching how to create and experience art and music and in creating permanently installed artworks in our schools and communities throughout South Jersey.
The preparation of this web page and video has been made possible, in part, by funds from the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund administered by the New Jersey Historic Trust.