To promote the knowledge and appreciation of trees and other plants from around the world as well as plants and animals native to the State of Maine. Our preserve land, interpretive materials, exhibits, programs & events, and our trail system are designed for people of all ages to provide opportunities for education, recreation, and inspiration.
The Arboretum is a private non profit corporation. Funding for the Arboretum is derived from membership fees, donations and gifts as well as foundation support. We rely on memberships as a significant source of our operating budget. Members receive our full color newsletter complete with interesting articles, news, and upcoming events. A 10% discount on gift shop items and event admissions is also extended and there are several members' only special events throughout the year. Membership envelopes are available at the Visitors Center and at trail kiosks throughout the preserve. You may also download a membership form from our publications and other documents web page.
The Arboretum is currently composed of 224 acres of land with a long history of farming use. In the early 1800s, this area was owned by several neighboring farms.
From 1835 to 1905, the State Hospital (now Riverview Psychiatric Center) purchased and consolidated these farms. For more than a century, the hospital farm provided crops and livestock as well as occupational therapy and exercise for hospital patients.
During the 1890s as part of the belief in "moral treatment" of psychiatric patients, it was considered desirable for patients to benefit from being outdoors and involved in farming activities. The thinking being that this led to a cure and good health.
The history of the old State Hospital Farm can be seen throughout the 224 acres which now make up the Viles Arboretum. At the top of the Hosta Collection trail, you can see the valve station used for controlling water flow from the earthern cistern (now the pavillion) to the hospital below. The granite quarry just beyond the Rock Garden is one of the areas where granite was cut from a quarry deposit and used for various projects including foundations. A network of ponds, canals and other earthen structures can also be observed at various locations on the Arboretum property.
The historic reports to the Maine State Legislature are quite interesting to read. These annual reports track the rise and fall of this amazing undertaking and they are quite entertaining. One can easily read the politics of the times in these reports as the writers attempt to put a rosy picture on things in terms of results and income.
The picture here depicts the old piggery which burned down. One can see the remains of the stalls along the trail which takes visitors to the bridge at Viles Pond.
President- Sammee Quong
Treasurer- Jen Smith
Secretary- Hillary Schultz