Richard Warch Memorial Grove
The Memorial Grove honors the memory of Richard Warch, Lawrence University’s 14th President, whose vision and leadership helped make Björklunden the treasure that it is today. His love for this special place was shared by many others who are remembered in the grove as well.
An explanation of Rik’s vision for Björklunden is best paraphrased from the article “President Warch’s Björklunden Vision” by Gregory A. Volk:
In August of 1993, an electrical fire virtually leveled Björklunden’s principal building, the lodge lovingly created by Winifred and Donald Boynton. Once Lawrence overcame the pain of the loss, it became apparent that the college, through its Board of Trustees, would need to make some tough decisions with long-reaching implications. Should the college immediately rebuild, as some thought? If so, what exactly should be built? What were the financial and the budgetary ramifications of operating Björklunden? What obligations, legal, moral, and otherwise does Lawrence have to preserve and perpetuate the Boyntons’ legacy? Could the property be sold? Should Björklunden be sold? In his address to the board, Rik Warch delivered one of the most inspirational pieces of his presidency, “Autodidacts, Cyberspace, Students, and Björklunden” in which he laid out his vision for Björklunden:
“I do not want to ignore the very real sense of peace and serenity that Björklunden affords…What Winifred Boynton called ‘a sanctuary for all,’ ‘far removed from confusion and aggression,’ Björklunden can serve an aspect of our mission in a distinctive and important way.
Björklunden has rich potential to serve as a distinguishing feature and asset of Lawrence. In a world that threatens at once to be characterized by atomization and mass culture, it offers the kind of setting and sanctuary that can afford members of the Lawrence community special opportunities for reflection, renewal, and refreshment, to engage themselves and each other in meaningful and purposeful ways, and to be touched and uplifted by what Donald and Winifred Boynton accomplished and intended there.”
Rik Warch asked that the college commit itself to find ways to make Björklunden a part of what it means to be a Lawrence student. Rik’s impassioned advocacy of Björklunden, his belief that such a future could be crafted, did the trick. The board voted unanimously to rebuild, without a firm road map, but taking a critical leap of faith through Rik’s vision.
Rik’s call to action to rebuild Björklunden not only created a new important part of the academic fabric of Lawrence, but also allowed for the continuation of the Björklunden Seminar program - a program that started in 1980 and has provided, and continues to provide, Lawrence alumni, parents, Door County community members and other friends of Björklunden the opportunity to engage in meaningful, intellectually-stimulating, and rewarding educational experiences.