‘Two Sisters One Garden,’ the history of Goodell Gardens & Homestead

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 5:20 PM

Women’s History Month blossomed with the presentation titled “Two Sisters One Garden,” a talk about the Goodell sisters, Margaret and Carrie. The presentation told a story that went all the way back to the founding of Edinboro University.

Presented by Amber Wellington, the assistant director of local Goodell Gardens & Homestead, it highlighted the numerous achievements of the Goodell sisters, spoke on their family’s strong historical ties to Edinboro and described what the Goodell Gardens & Homestead does today.

Wellington began the presentation with a history of the Goodell family. Layton Goodell, the great-grandfather of Margaret and Carrie, donated $25 in 1859 to help found the State Normal School at Edinboro, which eventually developed into Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Then, their grandfather George Goodell served as a trustee at the school and, due to the quick action of his wife Nancy, was able to purchase the plot of land which would become Goodell Gardens before anyone else could. And finally, their father Todd Goodell graduated from the school in 1898.

Then, the presentation arrived to the ladies of the hour, Carrie and Margaret. Carrie was born Nov. 20, 1908 and Margaret followed on April 14, 1910. They both graduated from Edinboro in 1932, after Carrie delayed college a year so that the two of them could go together. Carrie then went on to get a master’s degree in 1938 from the University of Pittsburgh, a rare accomplishment for women in that period.

Both sisters worked outside of the farm, but for Carrie, the farm remained at the center of her world, and she focused much of her efforts there. Meanwhile, Margaret worked outside of the farm until her retirement. 

Neither of the sisters ever married or had children, leaving them without anyone to take over the farm once they were gone. Fearing their beloved land would be taken over by a developer, the sisters began to plan as to how they could leave the land intact for the enjoyment of Edinboro residents. 

Shortly after the passing of Margaret in 1997, Carrie entered an agreement with the Erie Community Foundation which would establish the farm as a public garden once Carrie was gone. In 2001, after she then died at the age of 92, the Goodell Gardens and Homestead was incorporated as a non-profit.

Wellington finished the presentation by talking about how the organization works to fulfill Margaret and Carrie’s last wish for the future of their farm. Wellington explained that their mission statement essentially boils down to encouraging “public understanding and appreciation of plants, their relationship to humanity, & the heritage of the Goodell family.”

For those interested in learning more about this family in Edinboro’s history, artifacts from the Goodell family will be on display on the second floor of the Baron-Forness Library all month. 

Nathan Hirth can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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