Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


December 27, 2012

Enchanted Forest, Part II: How a dream sanctuary took wing


Designed to keep the birds safe by deterring predators from gaining access to the sanctuary, it also eliminated the need for pens and cages, allowing the hundreds of birds introduced – ducks, geese, swans, quail, and pheasants - to live freely in a far more natural habitat. The fence rose to 7 feet in height with one foot going into the ground and then horizontally underground for a foot preventing animals from digging their way in from underneath. The fence also had a metal flashing preventing animals from climbing over and onto the grounds. If you look carefully, you can still see the flashing today.

Cochran also commissioned artist Stuart Travis, who had done work on the campus for many years, to design a set of gates for the entrance to the sanctuary. Built in 1932, the gates are made from rusticated wood supported by stone piers. Across the top of the gates is a charming wrought iron frieze of birds and flowers. Beyond the gates, memorial benches hewn of rock and stone were conceived, designed and placed throughout the grounds, offering spectacular vistas where one could rest and contemplate the quiet, calming majesty of nature.

The crowning touch to Thomas Cochran’s dream was a meeting place where students could gather, relax and take in the natural beauty the sanctuary had to offer.

Cochran turned to the man he’d appointed as the first warden of the sanctuary, his old friend Augustus P. Thompson, to help create the center. Working together with his brother Moncrieff, a simple log cabin was designed. It was built in 1931 on a hilltop at the highest point at east end of the Sanctuary using logs from Nashua, N.H. The cabin, with a hot air furnace, offered all the comforts of home. One large room held a fireplace along with space and facilities for dining. On weekends, a caterer stood ready to prepare sandwiches and hamburgers, served on china, as well as soft drinks. The cabin also had a well-stocked library. Beds, blankets and camping equipment were on hand so that students could stay the night. Outside, benches were placed at the back of the cabin offering a breathtaking vista. The cabin grounds included two manicured putting greens for golfers to practice and hone their games.

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