Bayard Cutting Arboretum (RA)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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Collectors: Robbins, William Jacob, 1890-
Collectors: Steere, William Campbell, 1907-
Title: Bayard Cutting Arboretum (RA)
Dates: 1936-1963
Abstract: Collection consists of meeting minutes, photographs, incoming and outgoing correspondence, memoranda, contracts, financial records, maps, and newspaper clippings.
Quantity: 0.4 linear feet.
Call Phrase: Bayard (RA)

Background of Bayard Cutting Arboretum

William Bayard Cutting (1850-1912) was trained as a lawyer at Columbia College but soon left the profession to assist his grandfather, Robert Bayard in the management of his railroad company. In later years, he also managed of a variety of companies including banks, trusts, and insurance companies. He was also involved with land development, most notably, improvements rendered to the South Brooklyn and Red Hook waterfront. In addition to land development, Mr. Cutting was one of the founders of the City and Suburban Homes Company, a successor to the Improved Dwellings Association for which he was president from 1879-1895.

Cutting purchased the Long Island, New York property in 1884. It became the family estate, Westbrook previously belonging to the estate of George Lorillard. In time, Cutting began creating the arboretum. A considerable conifer collection was created of fir, spruce, pine, cypress, hemlock, yew and other lesser known conifers. Most of this original collection, established in the late 1890s and created with he assistance of Charles Sprague Sergeant, was badly damaged from a hurricane in 1985, although many plantings made after 1940 are still present.

The Bayard Cutting Arboretum was donated to the Long Island State Park Region by Mrs. William (Olivia Murray) Bayard Cutting and her daughter, Mrs. Olivia Bayard James. It was founded as a family-trust endowed memorial to William Bayard Cutting in 1936 and donated to the state and people of New York.

In November 1949, Mrs. Olivia Murray Cutting passed away and her daughter, Olivia Bayard James, continued running the estate until 1952 when the arboretum management was fully transferred to the Long Island State Park and Recreation Commission, which at the time was headed by Robert Moses.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of records from the files of William Jacob Robbins, Director of the New York Botanical Garden from 1937-1958, and William Campbell Steere, Director from 1958-1977. Both were members of the Board of Trustees with the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.


The collection is organized into five series:
Series 1: Minutes-Board of Trustees meetings. 1936-1962. Arranged chronologically.
Series 2: Contracts. 1937-1938. Arranged chronologically.
Series 3: Correspondence. 1936-1963. Arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Financial Records. 1952-1960. Arranged chronologically.
Series 5: Clippings and Maps.


Access restrictions

This collection is open for research with permission from Mertz Library staff.


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be submitted in writing to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Clarke, Gilmore D., 1892-
Cutting, Olivia Murray
Cutting, William Bayard, 1850-1912.
James, Olivia Bayard
Moses, Robert, 1888-1981
Robbins, William Jacob, 1890-
Steere, William Campbell, 1907-
Arboretums-New York (State)--Long Island.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum (Long Island, N.Y.)--History.
Horticulture-New York (State)--Long Island.
Long Island State Park Commission.
New York Botanical Garden.
Document Types
black-and-white photographs
financial records
maps, boundary
news clippings

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

VF-- Bayard Cutting Arboretum (Long Island, N.Y.)

Records, [ca.1881-1954]-- Lord and Burnham Company (Irvington, N.Y.)

State University of New York (SUNY)

Records, 1974-1990-- Bayard Cutting Arboretum Horticultural Society.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Bayard Cutting Arboretum (RA), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

The collection was originally transferred to the archives by Dr. William C. Steere, date unknown. It was retrospectively accessioned on 9 January 1980, with the original accession number X24.

Processing Information

Processed July 2005 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-50678-04.

Container List


Series 1. Minutes-Board of Trustees meetings.

Scope and Content:

Meeting minutes of the Board of Trustees. Folder 1 includes initial proposals and deed transfers for incorporation and development, management of endowment funds, maintenance, and public use proposals. Also included are discussions concerning the handling of hurricane damage and additions to plantings on the property.

Folder 2 includes minutes regarding capital improvements, revenue comparisons, and maintenance of structures and grounds. Specific financial issues discussed include fees, revenue comparisons, and receipts and expenditures. Also contains entrance statistics, and public access boundaries on the property.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Minutes-Board of Trustees 1936-1952
1.2 Minutes-Board of Trustees 1953-1962

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Series 2. Contracts.

Scope and Content:

This series includes additional deeds and outlines concerning the endowment fund, and an "area tabulations" survey. Specific contracts include the transferring of the estate from Olivia Bayard James to the State of New York and an outline of the functions and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees.

Folder Title Date
1.3 Contracts 1936-1952

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Series 3. Correspondence.

Scope and Content:

Incoming and outgoing correspondence between William J. Robbins and other members of the Board of Trustees for the Bayard Cutting Arboretum, lawyers, and other Arboretum affiliates. Topics include the initial opening of the Arboretum to the general public, meeting announcements, board member nominations, expenses, receipt reports, staffing, and relationship status with other institutions and properties.

Folder Title Date
1.4 Correspondence 1936-1951
1.5 Correspondence 1952-1954
1.6 Correspondence 1955-1963

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Series 4. Financial Records.

Scope and Content:

Includes general financial agreements, lists of trust assets, trust maintenance, investments analyses, cash transaction statements, and stock listings.

Folder Title Date
1.7 Financial Records 1952-1960
1.8 Financial Records 1953/1963

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Series 5. Clippings/Maps.

Scope and Content:

Includes newspaper clippings about the Arboretum, black and white photographs, road and border maps in various sizes of the arboretum and surrounding areas that include building locations (undated). Also included is a brochure of the opening of the Heckscher State Parkway.

Folder Title Date
1.9 Clippings and Maps 1954-1963

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