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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

William C. Coker and Campus Landscaping

William C. Coker (1872-1953)

Polk Place and the rest of the central campus are now linked by brick walkways and carefully chosen plantings. This landscaping was designed primarily by campus planner and botany professor William Coker. During the 1920s, Coker had gravel sidewalks constructed with brick gutters to give McCorkle and Polk Places a sense of line and connection. In 1903, he created the Arboretum, a teaching collection of trees and shrubs in what began as a five-acre, boggy pasture. In the beginning, Coker selected trees, shrubs, and vines native to North Carolina but later added East Asian varieties.