'Garden of Contentment' Fulfills Dream at Baylor's Armstrong Browning Library

  • ABL Garden of Contentment
    Architect's rendering of the view from Waco Hall of the Garden of Contentment at Armstrong Browning Library.
  • ABL Garden of Contentment
    Architect's rendering of the Garden of Contentment at Armstrong Browning Library. Construction is expected to be completed in September.
  • ABL Garden of Contentment
    Architect's rendering of the Garden of Contentment at Armstrong Browning Library. Construction is expected to be completed in September.
  • ABL Garden of Contentment - Original
    Artist's sketch of the Garden's original concept from the early 1950s.
July 13, 2012

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (July 13, 2012) -- Construction is under way at Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library on the "Garden of Contentment," a beautifully landscaped, flexible outdoor gathering space and garden that will complete Dr. A.J. Armstrong's original vision for the library.

"The Garden of Contentment will create another beautiful space on the Baylor campus for people to walk, to think and to be inspired," said Pattie Orr, dean of University Libraries at Baylor. "We imagine students, people coming from events at Waco Hall and other groups from Baylor enjoying this space and using the area to host outdoor events."

Sue Getterman of Waco and Waldo and Minnie Lee Hill of Houston provided generous lead gifts for the garden, bringing Armstrong's vision -- formed six decades ago -- to life. The family of Shepherd Spencer Neville Brown of Waco made provision for the garden's fountain, which will become one of the most recognizable features. Additional donors sponsored 12 teak benches and other furnishings throughout the garden.

"Many of the donors or their family members were students of Dr. Armstrong and are deeply loyal to his vision for Armstrong Browning Library," Orr said.

All of the garden's supporters are members of the Guardian Angels, the affinity group for Armstrong Browning Library, which provides for the facility, its collections and its ability to welcome the public for free.

The Garden of Contentment's grounds will feature the fountain and teak benches, as well as brick sidewalks, crushed granite paths, greenery and softly lit trees in the evening.

"Dr. and Mrs. Armstrong envisioned and achieved a beautiful building for Baylor University as a setting for a world-renowned 19th century research center," said Rita Patteson, director of Armstrong Browning Library. "Now, the grounds will share in their vision of splendor and grace."

Shortly after construction of Armstrong Browning Library was completed in 1951, Dr. Armstrong, longtime chairman of the Baylor English department, wrote in a letter, "(A)fter dedicating the Library in a blaze of glory, we (realized) we had practically not a penny left for landscaping." In that letter, Armstrong envisioned "an outstandingly lovely portion planned for the grounds...to include beautifully designed benches where people can sit and meditate and absorb the beauty of the garden."

The opening of the Garden of Contentment will be one part of a dual centennial celebration throughout the fall - "Celebrating a Poet's Life and a Professor's Dream" - commemorating the 200th anniversary of Robert Browning's birth and the 100th anniversary of Dr. Armstrong arriving at Baylor University.

"Since this year marks two centennial celebrations for Armstrong Browning Library, fulfilling Dr. Armstrong's vision for this garden was particularly timely," Orr said. "Because this portion of his dream for Armstrong Browning Library was left unfinished, it felt right in this special year to pursue completing it with the same passion he had for the Brownings and for Baylor."

Dedication of the Garden of Contentment is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 14.

For more information about opportunities to support the Garden of Contentment, the Guardian Angels and Baylor University Libraries, contact Trey Hagins, director of development, at Trey_Hagins@baylor.edu or (254) 710-2561.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library is a 19th-century research center and "library of record" dedicated to the study of the lives and works of Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The library houses the world's largest collection of Browning material and other fine collections of rare 19th-century books, manuscripts and works of art. Armstrong Browning Library is dedicated to acquiring, preserving and providing access to these materials and its other collection and promoting opportunities for the study, appreciation and understanding of the Brownings and the wider field of 19th-century literature and culture by the Baylor community, the larger academic community and the general public. For more information, visit www.browninglibrary.org.


The Baylor University Libraries connect people with ideas in support of teaching, learning, scholarship and academic distinction through its Central Libraries and special collections libraries - Armstrong Browning Library, the Electronic Library, The Texas Collection and the W.R. Poage Legislative Library.

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