History of the Roemer Arboretum

The Roemer Arboretum on the campus of SUNY Geneseo was founded in 1990 through an endowed gift to the Geneseo Foundation by Dr. Spencer J. Roemer, Emeritus. It consists of 20 acres, located on the south campus of the College south of the residence halls and between Routes 20A/39 and Route 63. Entrance should be made from Routes 20A/39 to the South Campus parking lot J.

Like all of Geneseo, the Roemer Arboretum resides on the homeland of the Seneca Nation of Indians and the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. These original occupants likely helped shape the landscape you see today and were intimately connected to the plants and animals native to this area. We have much to learn from the indigenous knowledge of these traditional stewards of the land.

The area, once known as the Black Walnut lot, belonged to the Wadsworth Homestead from 1790 to the 1960s, when it was acquired by the college for the future expansion. Up until this time it was long used as pasture under the Wadsworths' ownership. A survey of the area by the Biology department has revealed a display of more than 70 species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, including a magnificent group of oak trees which are more than 200 years old, and several black walnut trees estimated to be over 100 years old. The Arboretum is a dynamic landscape which has seen much transformation as its open fields have transformed to forest over time, as seen in the aerial photos below.  

In this gift, Dr. Roemer expressed the wish that the "Arboretum be used as a living outdoor classroom by the faculty and students to preserve and enhance the beauty of the Genesee Valley." The maintenance and development of the Arboretum is supervised by an advisory board. Ongoing activities include enhancing its diversity through planting of native trees and shrubs in the wooded areas, promoting floral resources for pollinators and other beneficial arthropods in native gardens, removing invasive species, and documenting its natural history. 

The Arboretum is open, free of charge, from dawn to dusk. Visitors are encouraged to walk along the paths, admire the beauty of the Genesee Valley, inspect the variety of trees and plants, relax, and enjoy the view from the gazebo and benches.

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals who would like a guided tour of the Arboretum, contact the Office of Sustainability (sustainability@geneseo.edu).