Seemingly, the land was always meant to be an arboretum, although Everette and Nell DeGolyer didn’t realize that when they built their home on 44 acres at the bank of White Rock Lake in 1939. The DeGolyers thrived in the natural setting of their 21,000-square-foot Spanish-revival home. The original design included an “Indian Room” where the couple displayed cultural artifacts. Working with landscape architect Arthur Berger, the couple transformed the wild grounds into ornate gardens that were meticulously designed down to each plant. Everette Lee DeGolyer made his fortune working for the oil industry in geophysics and seismography. His keen sense of science and earned him the role as president of the Dallas Arboretum Foundation in 1944. After a seven-year battle with aplastic anemia, at age 70, he shot and killed himself in December of 1956 in his office in the Continental Building on Commerce Street. Twenty years later the city purchased the DeGolyer Estate for $1,076,000. It also obtained the neighboring 22-acre estate of Alex and Roberta Camp for $500,000 in 1980 with plans to build a “botanical zoo.” After nine years of fundraising and debate with neighbors, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden opened to the public. (Source: Texas Historical Association, The Dallas Morning News)
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