Work on Elmwood Grounds Will Lead to Academic Opportunities, Improve View

The Elmwood property along Lancaster Avenue will take on a new look in the weeks to come, as Eastern Kentucky University employees begin clearing overgrowth and dead trees from the property and repairing the iron fence.

Two years ago, the EKU Foundation acquired the home and 20-acre property as a gift from the trust created by the estate of the late Emma Watts, who lived at Elmwood until her death in 1970.

The immediate work is centered, however, on the huge front lawn, overgrown with winter creeper, honeysuckle and other undesirable, invasive vegetation.

“We want faculty and students to have easy access to the grounds for academic purposes,” said David Williams, director of facilities services, noting that several academic programs, including biological sciences and horticulture, might benefit.

In some cases, Williams said, trees will be treated to enhance their health and growth. “We’ll do everything we can to preserve the large, mature trees.”

Besides providing another outdoor classroom for students, one goal of the work is simply a better view of the historic home, built in 1887 and believed to be the state’s only Chateauesque-style house outside Louisville.

 Williams also hopes the work will better reveal the walkway leading from Lancaster Avenue to the home. 

At the time of the gift, then-President Doug Whitlock said the University was “committed to maintaining the name of Elmwood and the beautiful vista along Lancaster Avenue. Further, we will use the property only for non-commercial purposes consistent with our mission. Any new construction will be behind the house and of architectural design in keeping with the existing structures. The property will be a wonderful enhancement to our campus and is of immense strategic importance to the future of the University.”

No decision has been made regarding a future use of the home.

The Foundation reimbursed the Watts Trust approximately $400,000 for improvements made to the property shortly before acquisition.

Published on December 06, 2013