Letter to the editor: A proposal concerning the woods at Packer and Brodhead


John G. Lewis is a Lehigh alumnus. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. 

This letter concerns our beautiful four acre wooded lot next to Packard Lab. This area is unusual and not many schools would have left such a space undeveloped.

Though I do not recommend development here, there may be ways in which the tract could nonetheless become more fully engaged and so better utilized.

However, it may be the entire area is broadly speaking flat, it does undulate to a degree and is not completely smooth. There exists relative depressions in certain areas, for example.

So, what I propose is that over the course of a number of years, perhaps even upwards of a century, the lot be landscaped and evened out for a consistent rise to the Alumni Mem. Bld. On the borders with Brodhead and Packer avenues, a black iron fence would be erected along with extra bush and tree work so as to increase privacy.

Extending the landscaping over a period of years, with respective breaks and rests, would allow the parcel time to grow and adjust while also functioning to maintain the impression of a woodland.

In the upper middle of the woods (closer to the Alumni Bld.) a stone paved ellipsoidal area would be created and which would be perfectly flat. The ellipsoid would average roughly 100 feet in diameter and in the middle of which would be placed a single tree. I suggest the American Sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis) also known as the Buttonball tree. This stately tree is one of the most massive east of the Mississippi and the brown and cream mottling of the bark make it naturally fitting. The tree could therefore become emblematic of the university.

This area might also be where we could set up chairs, build benches, and so forth, so as to provide a place where certain events might be held or even an occasional class conducted such as a seminar or freshman English.

During landscaping, care and deference would accordingly be given in an attempt to preserve any great or unusual trees, such as the Black Walnuts and giant Tulips.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.


  1. Bruce Haines’67 on

    Great idea plus lawn chairs throughout the space to encourage outdoor reading etc.

    Like to see this sooner than 100 years.

  2. Robert Davenport on

    The area is used at reunions. The variety of trees should promote the continued occupation by squirrels and as a byproduct, “mountain” hawks. Sounds like a good project for student involvement which to follow The Brown and White, seems often to be lacking.

  3. John G. Lewis '90 on

    Btw. In addition to the other trees mentioned, I believe I spotted an unusual Kentucky Coffee tree in the woods… Quite healthy and fairly tall for the species at 90 feet, with a classic shape.

  4. John Grosvenor Lewis on

    I have a small refinement to my proposal, in an attempt to make the patio area a little fancier, if you would. What of placing the ellipsoid inside a rhombus yet with the latter being paved slightly different…? Just an idea.

Leave A Reply