Inspired by his love of plants and gardens, Robert Pfenning first became interested in the landscape at McKelvy House as a participant in the annual College Hill Neighborhood Association house and garden tour. Upon learning that the grounds had previously featured a garden designed by noted landscape architect Marion Coffin, he thought it would be beneficial to the College and the neighborhood to restore the garden.
An avid flower photographer and member of the Garden Conservancy, Pfenning is a retired accountant currently serving as city controller for Bethlehem, Pa.
“I wanted to support a project that contributed to the intellectual and scholastic experience of the students,” says Pfenning. “I suggested that we meet with students who live in McKelvy and enjoyed talking with them about the plans.”
Ground will be broken in spring and work completed by early summer 2013. The main garden will be located on the terraced area behind and to the east of the house with a gazebo and gathering area at the back border. Since the garden tour occurs the third week of June, perennials have been chosen for peak bloom at that time. New shrubs and trees will also be installed. On the upper level closer to the house a lawn area will be left open for placement of a tent for social gatherings.
The son of Robert E. ’32 and Hazel E. Pfenning for whom the Pfenning Alumni Center is named,
Pfenning explains that he is fulfilling the wishes of his father for funds to go to Lafayette College for various projects.
The house’s improved driveway, new sidewalk, site improvements, and plans by Architerra, the landscape architect, have already been made possible by Pfenning’s generous contributions.