Sunny days at Haverford create a common scene of students and professors relocating to sit on Founder’s green. This experience will become more comfortable and picturesque, as an outdoor learning space has been added alongside the English Department’s Woodside Cottage. The project was made possible by a gift from David Cook ’64 and his wife Maxine Einstein Cook, who suggested the addition after auditing English classes in the Meditation Room. The space will be dedicated to her parents, Mollie G. Einstein and Samuel H. Einstein, who enjoyed teaching, architecture, and gardening.
Truly immersed in nature, the area receives shade from a neighboring cedar tree and allows for moss to grow between the loose-linked flagstones. In accordance with Quaker teaching tradition, the benches are arranged in a circle that can accommodate 36 people with equal seating spaces. Gaze Burvill Ltd. of England designed benches exclusively for this project. The company is one of the founding members of “Woodland Heritage,” an organization dedicating to maintaining “secure and sustainable future” for the British woodlands. Arboretum Director Bill Astifan notes that the curved English white oak is durable with a design that is “unique to Haverford.”
Last year’s department chair and Maxine Einstein Cook’s former English professor, Maud McInerney, has been involved with this project since its inception. McInerney sees the outdoor area as a “comfortable space” that could serve several purposes in addition to holding classes. The peaceful location would be ideal for performances, poetry readings, club meetings, and department picnics. This addition will not be exclusively for English department use, nor will classes be scheduled there regularly, but professors can chose to move their sessions outside.
Professor McInerney suggested that the outdoor learning space could be active as early as the weather permits. She expects to see it used frequently during the Spring semester. Arboretum Director Bill Astifan plans to continue tending to the surrounding landscape. After spending long hours working on the project, Astifan appreciates the peaceful atmosphere, saying the scenic space “changes your whole frame of mind.” This tranquility should work well for students reading Shakespeare, studying topographies, or simply searching for inspiration.