The name for this Arboretum site in the northwest corner of the Park was inspired by a little known historic relic – the stone base for the former Fort Williams chapel bell tower.
Contained within the western part of the Chapel Road Preserve, the site’s most prominent natural features are a half dome of granite that forms its summit and a majestic grove of venerable oaks and hickories, some as old as 150 years old. As stated in the Park’s master plan, these stands form one of the signature views for visitors entering and leaving the Park. On closer inspection though, you’ll notice nearly impenetrable thickets of invasive plants, such as multiflora rose, Asiatic bittersweet, and black swallow-wort. A poorly located chain-link fence and crumbling stone steps further impede access to the summit, on which stands the bell tower base.
Clearing of undesirable plants and obstacles, and the construction of paths will one day lead you to this point of secluded beauty, historic interest, and stunning views.
- Stone Base of Chapel Bell Tower (1941)
- Stone Steps (1941)
Please visit the Park History page for more information about Fort Williams’ military past.
Featured Problematic Plant: multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
Multiflora rose is an Asiatic shrub with long, arching, thorny green stems, small oval leaves, and large clusters of small, fragrant white flowers in early summer, maturing into tiny red hips in fall.
Highly adaptable, multiflora rose was historically promoted by federal and state conservation agencies for erosion-control, wildlife habitat, and for hedgerows. It has since escaped and become invasive in fields and forest edges throughout the east, where it creates dense, thorny thickets which inhibit growth of other plants, even within woodlands. Multiflora rose propagates by seeds, which are spread by birds and small mammals, and by suckering roots and arching stems that form roots where tips reach the ground.
Featured Beneficial Plant: wild geranium, also woodland geranium and spotted cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)
A native perennial of open woods and moist meadows throughout the eastern half of North America, wild geranium brightens the understory with its upward-facing, lavender-pink flowers at the tip of thin stems, emerging from low mounds of heavily-lobed foliage in May and June.
Its foliage supports several moth species, and its nectar draws many species of Butterflies and Bees. Mourning Doves and Chipmunks feed on its seeds.
In recent years, wild geranium has become more popular in residential shade gardens, where it mixes well with ferns, Jacob’s ladder and Solomon’s seal.