An Illustrated History of the Missouri Botanical Garden (1800-1920) Link to the Missouri Botanical Garden
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This timeline provides a brief history of the Missouri Botanical Garden, illustrated with historic photos from our Archive. Click on the "Learn more" link beside each item to view photos and read more about that topic. A complete timeline, including all of the text and photos, is also available by clicking here.

1800-1820's
Henry Shaw grows up in England and comes to St. Louis to start a hardware business. - Learn more

1820's
Shaw first sees the land where the Garden will be located. - Learn more

1839-1851
Shaw retires and travels. - Learn more

1849
Tower Grove House constructed. - Learn more

1856
Shaw seeks advice from Englemann, Hooker, and Gray. - Learn more

1857
Shaw begins to build up the Garden’s library and herbarium. - Learn more

1859
Shaw’s dream of funding a Garden was threatened by a lawsuit for breach of promise. - Learn more

1859
Museum Building constructed. - Learn more

1859
Shaw opens the Garden to the public. - Learn more

1860-1889
The Garden began to take shape during Shaw’s lifetime. - Learn more

1860-1889
The Garden contained an arboretum and a farm during Shaw’s lifetime. - Learn more

1860-1889
During Shaw’s lifetime, the Garden contained a formal "par terre" garden and an observation tower. - Learn more

1860-1889
Shaw’s attitude toward his Garden. - Learn more

1860-1889
Shaw was a generous benefactor and humanitarian. - Learn more

1867
Shaw hires James Gurney as Head Gardener. - Learn more

1870's
Shaw builds a mausoleum, but then rejects it. - Learn more

1880s
Shaw commissions a sculpture of himself for his mausoleum. - Learn more

1880s
A building in the Southeast corner of the Garden was used for many things, including housing students. - Learn more

1880s
Shaw founds a School of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis. - Learn more

1889
Shaw dies. - Learn more

1889
Shaw’s will takes effect, establishing the Missouri Botanical Garden as a charitable trust. - Learn more

1890
In accordance with Shaw’s will, a local clergyman begins preaching an annual "Flower Sermon." - Learn more

1890s
In accordance with Shaw’s will, his Town House is moved to the Garden grounds. - Learn more

1889-1890
The Board of Trustees takes over governance of the Garden. - Learn more

1889-1890s
Trelease becomes the Director of the Garden and moves into an enlarged Tower Grove House. - Learn more

1897
Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm submits a plan for the future development of the Garden. - Learn more

1889-1915
The largest crowds at the Garden are for the two open Sundays and for the flower shows. - Learn more

1889-1912
William Trelease leads the Garden as its Director. - Learn more

1913-1938
George E. Moore serves as Director of the Botanical Garden. - Learn more

1915
Palm House constructed. - Learn more

1920's
St. Louis suffers from coal soot pollution in the air. - Learn more

1923-1926
The Garden purchase a tract of land near Gray Summit, Missouri and moves its orchid collection to this property, known as the Missouri Botanical Garden Arboretum. - Learn more

1920's
The Garden sends plant collectors to South and Central America and acquires a sub-station in Panama. - Learn more

- Researched and written by Kent Bunting.

Copyright © 2000-2002 Missouri Botanical Garden | Contact MBG Archives

This project was funded by a Missouri State Library Digital Imaging Grant.

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