Brookings’ McCrory Gardens Grows To Include Education and Visitor Center

Brookings’ McCrory Gardens Grows To Include Education and Visitor Center

Brookings’ beloved McCrory Gardens grew from a vision SDSU Professor S.A. McCrory had in the early 1960’s for a research garden that would showcase trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers that were – or could be – a part of South Dakota’s landscape.

An artist's rendering of plans for the new SDSU McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center.

An artist's rendering of plans for the new SDSU McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center.

Today, over 50 years later, the 20-acre McCrory Gardens and 45-acre Arboretum are a thriving testament to McCrory’s vision becoming reality. The outdoor campus offers an educational, outreach and research setting woven together for the benefit of SDSU and the public.

Now, the capstone to McCrory’s foresight is being added – an Education and Visitor Center that will link the formal display gardens and arboretum while also providing an educational hub for students, visitors and events. The $4.2 million facility is being built through the generous contributions of private donors.

Martin Maca, associate director of planning and development at McCrory Gardens, says, “We feel very fortunate to have had such generous support, and we’re very pleased with the plans for this eco-friendly, multi-purpose facility.”

The 9,350-square-foot building will feature space for classes, gatherings and presentations, as well as a help desk and gift shop. Specifically, two rooms will each have the capacity to seat 30 people, and a great hall will have space for 300 when arranged with auditorium-style seating or about 180 when set up for dining.

The design of the building accentuates an ‘indoor-outdoor’ approach to architecture with a terrace that will feature exposed glass looking out to a perennial garden and the surrounding landscape. Two event lawns, a water feature, and a new perennial bed will create a sweeping connection between new and existing elements at McCrory. Additional space near the center’s parking lot also will give the staff an opportunity to showcase five different species of woody plants that were originally developed at SDSU.
Moreover, the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center is utilizing recycled materials in the building plan and will receive the “Silver” LEED-certified “green” designation.

The new center is scheduled to open in November 2011, and will provide a setting for a variety of events – from field trips for SDSU classes to workshops and continuing education courses, as well as a community gatherings, banquets, weddings, conferences, and family or class reunions.
Maca says, “We see this center as a place where groups as varied as Extension Master Gardeners to public school classes can come to use the facility’s excellent classrooms and spaces. In addition, it gives visitors an excellent starting point to their explorations of the grounds.”

For more about SDSU’s McCrory Gardens, visit The SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences conducts ongoing research within the Gardens and Arboretum on the introduction, cultivation, and arrangement of native and domesticated plants, as well as testing turfgrass varieties to lower inputs of fertilizer, water and maintenance, and demonstrating the effectiveness of native plant horticulture in the northern Great Plains.

— By Kindra Gordon, for SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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