Burden Museum and Gardens offers 440 acres of green space located in the heart of Baton Rouge. It consists of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Windrush Gardens and the Rural Life Museum. The property was owned by the Burden family from the mid 1800s until the final segment was donated to LSU in the 1990s.
LSU began acquiring the property in 1966 with the donation of an initial 50-acre parcel. The donors were Steele Burden, former landscaper for the LSU Campus; his sister, lone Burden, former assistant dean of women at LSU; and Mrs. Jeanette Burden, widow of their brother, Pike Burden. Additional parcels were donated annually until 1992, when LSU acquired the final parcel.
The Burden family stipulated in the act of donation that the property be used for horticultural and agronomic research, for development of the Rural Life Museum, and as a green area devoid of buildings extraneous to these purposes. Just before donating the final parcel of land, Steele Burden amended these stipulations to include the construction of a new LSU art museum and possibly a museum of natural science on the property.
To secure the university's future adherence to these stipulations, the Burden Foundation was formed to ensure basic compliance with the intent of the donation. This foundation is composed of 12-14 prominent citizens interested in the appropriate husbandry of this resource.
Currently, two LSU campuses are responsible for the development and maintenance of the property. The LSU Agricultural Center (AgCenter) is responsible for the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. The Botanic Gardens conduct a wide array of horticultural research projects relating to turfgrass, vegetable crops, nursery production, ornamentals, fruit crops, wetlands and coastal restoration. It is also responsible for historic Windrush Gardens. Botanic Gardens amenities include the lone Burden Conference Center, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, Burden Pavilion, All-America Selections Garden, Barton Arboretum, Black Swamp, Bonsai Garden, Burden Woods, Children's Garden, Tropical Garden, Herb Garden, Rose Garden, Stone Camellia Collection and Trees and Trails in the Burden Woods. The AgCenter is responsible for the overall maintenance and development of 414 of the total 440 acres.
LSU A&M, also in Baton Rouge, is responsible for the development of the LSU Rural Life Museum at Burden and the 26 acres of land it occupies. The LSU Rural Life Museum represents the 1800's and early 1900's plantation era in Louisiana history.
The Cultural Landscape Report traces the historic development of the landscape, identifies the elements that are significant and should be protected, pinpoints the sections of the landscape that have lost their original integrity and are in need of design intervention, and articulates what the essential qualities of the landscape as a cultural resource are.
The Mission of the Botanic Gardens is to promote the importance of plants and their environment to the physical, mental and spiritual well being of the citizens of Baton Rouge, the state of Louisiana and the world.
The mission is accomplished through a three pronged approach:
Educating the community through demonstration of the value of this research and these plants by enabling direct access to these fields and gardens.
Bringing people back to nature by providing a diversity of green places and special facilities to engage in conversation, create a community and to commune with nature.
Similar to the way Steele Burden sought to improve with every garden he designed, it is the vision of the Botanic Gardens to become the best horticultural research and outreach facility in the United States, making an impact on the world.
The master plan for the Botanic Gardens creates a unified vision for the property and its activity centers. It honors the legacy of Steele Burden, one of the Center's benefactor, by proposing a botanic garden destination for the citizens of Baton Rouge Parish and establishing the Center as the nation's premier horticultural research facility. See how our vision is projecting us into the future through our newly adopted Master Plan.
The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden has been undergoing significant changes as it refocuses from a crops research station to a center for urban agriculture education. Read more about this here.