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History: Margaret Branscomb statue magnolia

Kirkland Hall 1925
Kirkland Hall 1925 showing magnolia 2-865 on the left. Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives photo archives PA.BLD.KIRH.037

In a photo of Kirkland Hall taken for the 1925 “Commodore” we can see the magnolia tree that would one day provide shade for the statue of Margaret Branscomb. This tree due to its large size in the 1925 photo may have been one of the original trees of Vanderbilt planted by Bishop McTeiyre. Margaret Branscomb, wife of Chancellor Harvie Branscomb, loved the magnolias that graced Vanderbilt’s campus. Under her husband, Vanderbilt saw a massive building campaign that resulted in the construction of many buildings we know and love today.

Statue of Margaret Branscomb
Statue of Margaret Branscomb under magnolia 2-865.

As President of the Vanderbilt Garden Club from 1952 to 1954 Margaret Branscomb got the idea to beautify Vanderbilt by planting magnolia trees around the perimeter of campus. Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s Margaret Branscomb oversaw the planting of magnolia trees all across and on the edges of campus to add beauty and greenery alongside the budding buildings. She not only added new magnolias, but also replanted many already on campus in order to save them from being cut down during construction.

Speaking of her reasoning for planting the trees Margaret Branscomb said: “ “I thought of the noise and dust a thick row of magnolias would lessen, to say nothing of the campus being so open to the public view”. Today a bronze statue of Margaret Branscomb sits happily with a book below one of the beautiful magnolia trees she loved so much, just as the real Margaret Branscomb likely did throughout her time at Vanderbilt.

Plaque for Margaret Branscomb statue
Plaque for Margaret Branscomb statue

Margaret Branscomb's statue looks toward the Garden Club memorial
Margaret Branscomb’s statue looks toward the memorial to the Garden Club that she once led.

Return to the historical tree tour page for magnolia 2-865.