UPDATE (4/22/21 5:25 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Botanic Garden will soon see even more growth for events, conferences, weddings and other programs after a donation from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.
“In 2016, we opened the Education and Event Center,” recalls Philip Smith, the garden’s executive director. “This building has served us well, but we have outgrown the space with more demand for larger events and additional parking. We have been working for the last few years on various plans to present to the Trust and we finally hit the sweet spot with planning support from March-Westin.”
In 2016, a master plan was developed for the nonprofit that includes a vision for a wedding garden and additional parking located in the wooded area just west of the current main parking area, a press release explains.
“What we soon realized is that the Garden is in high demand as a one-of-a-kind wedding and events venue and we set our sights on an indoor space befitting of a botanic garden for these types of celebrations,” Smith said.
The Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust awarded the garden $3.1 million for construction, according to the release. The outdoor wedding garden will be located adjacent to the planned 5,000 square foot building connected by an ADA accessible pedestrian bridge.
“This is foundational for us,” said Dave Barnett, the WVBG board president. “This award means we can move forward with a building and section of the Master Plan that will result in much-needed revenue that can support additional horticultural development, education, and other needs.”
Smith echoed his sentiments about the significance of the funding from the trust.
“This is massive,” Smith said. “I mean typically, we get excited over a thousand-dollar grant, so for us to get this amount of money to be able to help the garden, it’s foundational, really. 100 years from now, this is going to be still a moment in history for the West Virginia Botanic Garden that we’ll always look back on. We couldn’t have done this without the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.”
The garden took over management of the city-owned property in 2000 and has relied on volunteers, grassroots fundraising and small grants to develop the site and its mission, the release states.
Now, with this funding from the Trust, Smith said, West Virginians and people from everywhere will have more to enjoy when they visit the garden.
“The legislature, this year, named West Virginia Botanic Garden its flagship garden, the state’s flagship garden,” he said. “And we have people from all over the country that come here, this is definitely a community resource. And by having this event center and wedding garden, maybe you’re not going to have a wedding, but this will help all assets at the garden. So, everything from the type of flowers that we plant to the programming that we have, it’s going to help everything. It’s really going to enhance this community in untold ways for a long time coming.”
The design-build process will begin this summer, with construction to begin by the end of the year or early in 2022. The project should be completed by the spring of 2023, Smith said.