Skip to main content

Arboretum Receives Gift of Land

June 24, 1997

tree A new reception and orientation hall for the UW Arboretum will become a reality, thanks to a gift of property appraised at $600,000 from local resident George Icke. This lead gift in the Arboretum’s capital campaign is the largest single contribution to the Arboretum in its 60-plus-year history.

The gift has special meaning for the Icke family, which is celebrating its centennial anniversary in Madison. George Icke’s father, John, first arrived here in the fall of 1897 to study engineering at UW. Upon his graduation in 1900, he became the City of Madison’s city engineer. Later, he founded the Icke Construction Company, which played a major role in Madison’s development in this century. George Icke and later his sons, John and Philip, operated the Icke Construction company from 1935 to the present.

The Icke family’s long association with the Arboretum started in 1933 when John Icke was appointed to the Arboretum’s first advisory committee. George Icke has also had a long association with the Arboretum. A life member of the Friends of the Arboretum, in 1992 he contributed the first boardwalk in an Arboretum wetland near Teal Pond. Two years ago he gave another boardwalk in the wetland near Johansen Pond, and he is also giving a new set of steps and path in Wingra Woods.

“George and his family have been an important part of the Madison community for 100 years,” said Arboretum director Gregory D. Armstrong. “This gift – a typically generous act on their part – will provide us with the financial means to reach our goal of creating a wonderful place to receive visitors at the Arboretum and help them to understand and take advantage of the Arboretum and its programs.”

This spring the Arboretum, with the help of the University of Wisconsin Foundation, launched a capital campaign, to gather resources for $2.8 million in major improvements to its visitor facilities and interpretive programs. To date the Arboretum has received approximately $1.5 million toward its goal.