book features Bernheim
Aboretum and Research Forest
left a legacy for Kentucky
Helen E. McKinney
GOSHEN, Ky. (February 2011) A new book by
Tavia P. Cathcart and Sharon A. Receveur has truly been a labor of love
to write. The pair spent four years and countless hours to pen their
coffee table book, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.
Ive loved Bernheim for many years, said Cathcart,
current executive director of Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Goshen,
Ky. About three years ago, she wanted to send items to her family to
share the joy of Bernheim with them but couldnt find anything
archivist Sharon A.
Receveur (below), a former trustee
of the Bernheim Foundation, and Tavia
P. Cathcart (above), executive director
for Creasey-Mahan Nature Preserve in
Goshen, co-authored a new book on
the 80-year history of Bernheim
Arboretum and Research Forest,
located south of Louisville.
She wrote to Martha Neal Cooke, Interim Director of Bernheim
Forest at the time, and sent a book proposal of her idea for a four-season
book with photos and writings. Another author, Sharon Receveur, had
submitted her own idea for a book about Bernheim and Cooke decided
to combine our efforts, said Cathcart.
The result is a 280-page book printed on partially recycled paper and
celebrating 80 years of Bernheim history. Published by Butler Books,
it contains 500 photographs, 175 of them having been taken by Cathcart
up to a year in advance.
Cathcart will hold a book signing from 6-8 p.m. on March 25 at Karens
Book Barn in La Grange. She will appear with Receveur on March 26 at
Java Brew in Prospect.
I decided to write the book several years ago because no book
had ever been written about this extraordinary place in all of its nearly
80 years of existence, said Receveur. As a former member of Bernheims
Board of Trustees, she was instrumental in guiding the creation of Bernheims
I knew that a wealth of historical materials was just begging
to be shared with all of us who are grateful to Isaac W. Bernheim for
his gift of this land to the people of Kentucky, Receveur said.
We decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to Bernheim,
Cathcart said. The book sells for $45 and for every copy sold, $20 will
be donated to Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest located in Clermont,
Bullitt County, Ky.
The book details the life of Bernheims founder, Isaac Wolfe Bernheim
(1848-1945), a Jewish philanthropist and bourbon distiller. Bernheim
immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1867 virtually penniless.
He planned to work in New York City but made his way to Paducah, Ky.,
instead as a peddler. He literally sold notions for just pennies, said
Bernheim secured a job as a bookkeeper for a wholesale liquor company,
Loeb, Bloom, & Co. He eventually brought his brother, Bernard, to
America and together they established the Bernheim Brothers distributorship.
This led to the creation of I.W. Harper whiskey and plenty of financial
Bernheim purchased and then donated 14,500 acres of land back to Kentucky.
Most people dont realize this, she said. Cathcart
added that he bought the land in 1929, but it remained closed to the
public until 1950. He contracted with the Frederick Law Olmstead
firm to design it.
Today, Bernheim is Kentuckys official arboretum
and offers visitors 44 acres of lakes, 32 miles of trails, a 250-acre
arboretum area that contains rare trees and native and wildflower meadows,
world-class art displays, a visitor center and research facilities.
About 2,000 acres are open to the public, and 12,000 acres are used
The book is a comprehensive overview of this rich gift to Kentucky,
said Cathcart. We wanted to capture the majesty and beauty of
Bernheim Forest through photos and tell the rich history of why it was
so important to Bernheim.
While Cathcart provided a look at Bernheimws natural history for the
book, Receveur researched and wrote the historical parts of the book,
describing the natural features of Bernheim and how they came to be
developed and gave the book its voice.
She said Bernheim is so special because it is one of the largest
privately owned arboreta east of the Mississippi, with unique plant
collections, research opportunities that provide students and scholars
from all over the region and beyond with the change to contribute to
the pool of knowledge about our natural world, distinct topographical
elements particular to this region of Kentucky, and cutting edge green
practices that are being emulated by others.
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
is available for purchase at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, local
bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, the Bernheim Arboretum
and Research Forest gift shop, and online at www.ButlerBooks.com.
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