November 29, 1999
Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment, (785) 832-7336.
LAWRENCE -- Hubert H. "Hub" and Kathleen McBride Hall of Lecompton have given 116 acres of land, valued at about $450,000, to the Kansas University Endowment Association, Leonard Krishtalka, director of KU's Natural History Museum, announced today.
Located in northwest Douglas County, in the largely upland area along the south bluffs of the Kaw River Valley, the land will become part of KU's Ecological Reserve Network and will be used for long-term biological research and education.
"The Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center is deeply grateful to Hub and Kathy Hall for their most generous gift," Krishtalka said. "It bespeaks their abiding respect for preserving the natural landscapes, habitats, plants and animals of Kansas for current and future generations. Their gift also exemplifies their longstanding commitment to KU and the Lawrence community."
The museum, Krishtalka said, intends the land to serve faculty, students and all residents in biodiversity education, research and public programs.
When geologist Hub Hall retired from Exxon in the late 1980s, the couple returned from England to settle in the Lawrence area. In their search for a rural homesite, the Halls found lots on what was once the old Armstrong farm.
"We thought the mix of forest and prairie quite beautiful," Hub Hall said. They bought four lots, or 25 acres, early in 1988.
As they explored their new area, the couple found to an even greater degree how virtually unspoiled the land was. So, they bought two farm tracts to the west, which Hub Hall calls Buroak Farm because of the trees that are plentiful there. In all, the couple purchased 142 acres.
"Kathy tells me I'm like the old Scotsman, who didn't want to own all of Scotland, just the land that adjoined his property," Hall said, laughing.
Hub Hall describes the land as a "treasure of wildlife and vegetation." The acreage is home to wild turkey, quail, coyote, red fox, badger, deer, whippoorwill, the eastern bluebird, barred owl and the uncommon Cooper's hawk. The land provides a harvest of wild raspberries, hazelbrush nuts, rose hips, walnuts, acorns, wild plum and apple, and bluestem. Native tall grass prairie shares the property with hardwoods including red oak, honey locust, Osage orange, mockernut and shagbark hickory, green ash, basswood, Kentucky coffee bean and thousands of redbud.
At the time he bought the land, Hall said his intent was to protect it from development; he wasn't thinking about its long-term use. But almost a decade later, he found himself influenced by what his father had done almost 50 years earlier. In the mid- to late 1940s, E. Raymond Hall -- world-renowned vertebrate zoologist, KU professor and director of the Natural History Museum -- established a nature reservation on the old Governor Robinson farm, northeast of the Lawrence airport.
"Dad remembered such a reservation when he was teaching in California," Hall said.
Hall shared his idea with Leonard Krishtalka, who was enthusiastic about setting up a natural history study area. "When he looked at the land with me, he was surprised to see something that had been so well cared for. It's had good stewardship and hasn't suffered too badly at the hands of man," Hall said.
"Kathy and I are delighted that the environmental reserve planned by KU for this land will complement and add to the knowledge of rare native species gained by Professor Henry Fitch and others on the original KU Natural History Reservation. We hope also that this gift may inspire nearby owners of similar ecologically sensitive land to add to the reservation created by our gift."
Hall is a recent former chair of the Natural History Museum's board of directors. In 1949, he earned a bachelor's degree in geology from KU, and Kathleen McBride Hall earned a bachelor's degree in education. Hub Hall went on to earn master's and doctorate degrees in geology at the University of Wisconsin.
The Halls are longtime supporters of KU and have provided continuing support for the museum and KU's Department of Geology. They are members of the Outlook Society for donors of $500,000 or more in the Chancellors Club, KU's major-donor organization.
The Halls' gifts are administered by the Kansas University Endowment Association, an independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fund-raising and fund-management foundation for the University of Kansas. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the oldest foundation of its type at a public university and one of the largest.
Story by Judith Galas