History

The Historic Ambler Campus

The long history of Temple University Ambler incorporates nearly a century of hands-on, student-centered learning; community engagement; and respect for the environment.

Evolving from and building on the environmental traditions of the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women, the scenic 187-acre campus traces its historical roots back to the early 20th Century.

In 1910 Jane Bowne Haines founded the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women on the site that would become Temple University Ambler. In 2002, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated an historical marker commemorating the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women at Ambler.

Under director Louise Carter Bush-Brown, who arrived in 1924, the school truly began to flourish. A dormitory was built on campus in 1929, followed by a library in 1951. James Bush-Brown, the director's husband and a member of the school's faculty during the 1920s and 1930s, designed the nationally acclaimed Formal Gardens, still the centerpiece of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University today.

In 1958, the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women accepted an offer from Temple University to merge with the already established Ambler Junior College . On June 16, 1958, the merger was formally approved and Ambler Junior College of Temple University was formed and immediately made available to men. In 1961, to emphasize the close relationship of the campus to Temple University, the Board of Trustees changed the name to The Ambler Campus of Temple University.

In 1968, performances by Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Van Cliburn marked the debut season of the Temple Music Festival and Institute, ushering in a time of expansion and growth on campus. Additions to the campus infrastructure, programs, and services continued through the 1970s, 1980s, and into the present day, including the opening of the 72,000-square-foot Ambler Campus Learning Center in 2006.

In 1987, Temple approved the formation of bachelor's degree programs in Landscape Architecture and Horticulture - Ambler is the official home to the department in addition the Department of Community and Regional Planning and the Center for Sustainable Communities, which today comprise Temple's School of Environmental Design. In 1990, the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs took home a "Best of Show" award from the Philadelphia Flower Show, an achievement repeated in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012 in the Academic Educational category.

On April 22, 2003, Temple University Ambler held its first "EarthFest" event, an outdoor educational celebration of Earth Day hosted by the Center for Sustainable Communities. Temple provides a full day of interactive events and exhibits each year promoting environmental awareness and the use of sustainable concepts, methods, and practices to protect and preserve our environment.

Today, students may begin all Temple degree programs and complete numerous undergraduate and graduate programs entirely on campus.

Temple University Ambler, a respected innovator in research and education in social, economic, and environmental studies, delivers high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit programs that meet the needs of the region and provides rewarding life experiences for students of all ages.

100 Years of Environmental Education

The seeds that would one day become Temple University Ambler were sown in the most unlikely setting back in 1905.

Jane Bowne Haines, a graduate from Bryn Mawr College, had taken a tour of Europe, visiting several colleges of gardening in England and Germany. When she returned to the states, she was determined to create a similar institution here.

It was in 1910 that Haines came across the 71-acre McAlonan farm in Ambler during a horse and buggy ride. With financial support from friends, in particular fellow graduates from Bryn Mawr, she purchased the property and founded the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women in 1911 — the only school of its type at the time in the United States. Go in depth with the foundation of the campus, how it became part of Temple University and how this rich history influences Temple University Ambler to this day.

A Century of Cultivation

In 2011, Temple University Ambler celebrated a century of academic excellence dating back to 1911. Providing a comprehensive vision of Ambler’s first 100 years is the companion book A Century of Cultivation 1911 to 2011 — 100 Years from the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women to Temple University Ambler, written by Jenny Rose Carey, Director of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, and Mary Anne Blair Fry, a graduate of the Class of 1958. The book and artifacts collection were developed with the assistance of the Temple University Ambler “100-Year Club,” a group of dedicated alums and Sandi Thompson, Head of Suburban Campus Libraries. Learn more about A Century of Cultivation.

Hilda Justice Artifacts Collection

The rich history of Temple University Ambler received a permanent “home” with the opening of the Hilda Justice Artifacts Collection, a rich, tangible overview of the campus’ history displayed through yearbooks, photos, tools, award medallions from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, silver cups and bowls from the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women won at cattle shows and equestrian competitions, diaries, documents, and other memorabilia donated or loaned to the campus to celebrate Ambler’s 100th year, which is on display in the original library, the Hilda Justice Building. Learn more about the Hilda Justice Artifacts Collection.