Colonel Davenport Historical Foundation
1800s Colonel George Davenport Garden
The Tri-City Garden Club worked from 2000-2004 to create the garden after much research into the Davenport Family as well as plants of the 1800s. The Garden was established in July of 2004 after the Illinois State Historical Preservation Agency gave its permission. Colonel George Davenport was a fur trader and then merchant who sold garden seeds along with other items to settlers heading west. While it is documented from a letter that Davenport wrote to his son in 1843 that a garden did exist on the site, it's not known exactlywhere the garden was located. Gardens with herbs and remedies were historically located close to houses, so the garden is located just south of the house on land previously disturbed by archaeologists in 1996 before the utility lines were permanently located there. In addition to making the grounds of the Colonel Davenport House site more attractive, the purpose of the garden is to show growing plants of the varieties which were in existence and available to the site in the 1800s and to be an educational tool to enhance the visiting public's understanding of life in that era. With just a few exceptions, plants for the garden have to meet four criteria:
- native plants or have been documented to have been available from plantsmen and nurseries in the east during the early 19th century;
- "unappetizing" to the Arsenal Island plentiful wildlife of deer, groundhogs, rabbits, etc.;
- vigorous enough to withstand the harsh winds on the Davenport site; and
- serve a purpose such as an herbal remedy which early settlers could have used.
The Tri-City Garden Club has used plants from its members' gardens, local nurseries and seeds from various sources. The Club is responsible for maintenance with its member/volunteers watering and tending the garden during the entire growing season.