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The Van Allen Tract

July 6, 1934 clipping from un-named newspaper, probably the Mt. Pleasant News

Bystander’s Notes:

We spent a very pleasant hour recently under the noble trees that beautify the lawn of the home of Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Van Allen. Mr. Van Allen’s premises are in direct contrast with most homes, where attention is given to landscaping and gardening. In most homes flowers are the dominant note, at others flowers and shrubs. At the Van Allen home, forest trees and deep stretches of green grass that flow to the southward and mingle with the rolling vistas of the Grove. Of flowers there are practically none; of shrubs but a spare foundation planting. And they would be out of place. Nothing could be added to the calm, dignified beauty of the wide, deep sloping lawn, by breaking up the vistas with gardens and clumps of shrubbery. The place occupies nearly a full block and has special local interest. Just down over the brow of the hill, Presley Saunders built the first residence in what is now the town. Just across the street to the southeast of the Van Allen place is a stone monument with tablet which fixes the location of a long house in which the first religious services and the first school teaching was held in town. Just west of the Van Allen residence, and on the premises, is a small pile of brick, all that remains of the first school house erected in the town for school purposes. The place is in the third ward, the oldest part of town, and contains, or did contain, about all the firsts of everything.

The Van Allen’s tract was formerly a sort of commons for the public use, and was the first circus grounds ever used in the community for that type of amusement. In the early days of the town, vast crowds gathered on that block to feed the elephant and drink red lemonade. In 1866 [sic: 1862], Mr. Van Allen’s father built the present residence, which has been somewhat altered into one of the most comfortable homes of the town. At the same time, he began planting the trees which in the passing of nearly three quarters of a century, are the glory of the place.

Mr. Van Allen, the elder [George C. Van Allen], was raised as a boy on the eastern end of Lake Ontario and in the clearings of the virgin forests. When he planted the trees at his home here, he had in mind to plant the trees as nearly as possible to conform to the surroundings of his old New York home. Hence the pines, and spruces, the elms and oaks and maples. One of the great trees was recently killed by lightning and two other noble trees have been stricken by similar bolts, but appear to be surviving all right. The view from the south porch of the house, down across the deep lawn and out over the Grove to the Hospital is very fine.

NOTE: The Van Allen home was located at 502 West Washington Street in Mount Pleasant.

Contributed by Pat White, 13 Jan 2019

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