Poets’ Garden Honors College’s Founders

In the woods behind the Rice-Aron Library there is a small clearing and stone foundation, marking the site of a former sugarhouse. The land was part of the parcel purchased by Walter Hendricks and his wife Flora in 1933, before Walter founded Marlboro College here and served as its first president. Although it’s been many decades since the Hendricks family lived in Marlboro, Walter and Flora’s children, grandchildren, and extended family gathered on September 17 to dedicate a Poets’ Garden in this woodland clearing.

“For my grandparents Walter and Flora Hendricks, founding Marlboro College on their farm on Potash Hill was the culmination of a dream,” said Tyche Hendricks, who worked with her father, Geoffrey Hendricks, and with Marlboro College faculty and staff to develop the Poets’ Garden. “Each of them was the first in their family to attend college, and education was transformative for them both. They wanted to pay it forward.”

The site was dedicated in memory of Walter and Flora, who wrote and studied poetry, and Robert Frost, the iconic American poet who served as one of the college’s first trustees. The old foundation for the sugarhouse has been partially reconstructed by local stone worker Michael Weitzner, and stones bearing inscriptions of poetry by Walter, Flora, and Robert Frost are interspersed throughout the site. The Hendricks family and the college envision the landscape as a work in progress, with additional poems being added in years to come.

“Walter and Flora shared a love of poetry and the written word—and they found a deep sense of connection in nature and this Vermont land,” added Tyche. “They raised us on Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and on snow peas from the garden and black raspberries from the roadside. So it feels fitting to honor them with a Poets’ Garden on the Marlboro campus.”

The dedication opened with music played by Helen Pinch ’18, followed by a welcome from President Quigley and fond remembrances and poetry readings by son Geoffrey Hendricks and other members of the Hendricks family. Finally, guests helped to plant several native bushes that will adorn the site for years to come.

For those in attendance, it was not hard to imagine this woodland clearing becoming a beloved gathering place. In fact, about a week after the dedication Tyche Hendricks received an email from philosophy professor William Edelglass with a photo of his class sitting on the stonewalls of the Poets’ Garden discussing philosophy. “That’s just what we had hoped: that people at Marlboro would make the Poets’ Garden their own,” she said.