The Viles Arboretum
The Mission of the Viles Arboretum is “to promote the knowledge and appreciation of Maine’s trees and other flora for people of all ages by offering opportunities for education, recreation, and inspiration.”
The Viles Arboretum
153 Hospital Street, Augusta, Maine
The Arboretum is currently composed of 224 acres of land with a long history of farming use. In the early 1800s, this area was owned by several neighboring farms.
From 1835 to 1905, the State Hospital (now Augusta Mental Health Institute) purchased and consolidated these farms.For more than a century, the hospital farm provided crops and livestock as well as occupational therapy and exercise for hospital patients.
During the 1890s as part of the belief in “moral treatment” of psychiatric patients, it was considered desirable for an institutional farm to provide one acre of land per patient. This amount of land was considered adequate to provide all patients with the opportunity for employment, which was believed to lead to cure and good health.
Over time, the farm grew to 600 acres, and for a few years in the late 1800s, the desired ratio of one acre per patient was realized. In the first half of the 20th century, the number of patients increased, peaking at approximately 1800 patients in the 1950’s.
The farm land east of Hospital Street (the current site of the Arboretum) was used for crops, hay, and pasture, while the land west of Hospital Street housed the major farm buildings. However, after several years of hog cholera outbreaks, a highly infectious and often fatal swine virus, a new Piggery was built east of Hospital Street in 1896.
From I-95 North: Take the new Augusta/Belfast Exit # 113. Proceed east straight through traffic light and over the new bridge crossing the Kennebec River. After the bridge, at the traffic light, turn right onto Route 201 South. Follow directions below from Routes 201, 202 – East bank of the Kennebec River.
From 1-95 South: Take the Augusta-Winthrop-202 Exit # 109 (Western Avenue); head east towards Augusta on Western Avenue to the rotary. Go 180 degrees around rotary to the 2nd exit. Go over the Memorial Bridge crossing the Kennebec. At the next rotary, take the first, immediate exit onto Stone Street. Follow Stone Street though the lights (now Hospital Street). Turn left at the Arboretum’s Visitors Center entrance approximately 0.7 mile past the lights.
From Gardiner: Follow Route 201 North to the light at the Gardiner Bridge. Go across the bridge into Randolph. Turn left at the light. (Follow directions below from Randolph.
From Randolph: Follow Route 9 East towards Augusta. The turn for the Arboretum’s Visitors Center is on the right hand side about 5 miles from the intersection of Routes 126, 27, and 9.