Georgian Court University was formerly the winter home of George Jay Gould, millionaire son of railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The architect Bruce Price was hired to transform the land, purchased in 1896, into a lavish country estate resembling an English estate of the Georgian period; therefore, it was named Georgian Court. In addition to designing the buildings, Bruce Price designed three of the four major gardens, which were created before 1910: the Classic or Italian Garden, the Sunken Garden or Lagoon, and the Formal Garden. The garden designer Takeo Shiota designed the Japanese Garden.

The Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate in 1924, moving their College of Mount Saint Mary to the site.  The college is now Georgian Court University.  The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark.

The arboretum, established in 1989, is named after Sister Mary Grace Burns and comprises the landscaped part of the campus (approx. 100 acres).  It features a good collection of native plants of the New Jersey Pine Barrens (New Jersey Pinelands) as well as a large number of nonnative plant species.  Small Clethra alnifolia, holly and magnolia collections are located between the Italian Gardens and Formal Garden.

Because it is an integral part of the university campus, the arboretum is open daily.  We welcome visitors from 8 am until dusk.  Please enter via the main vehicular campus entrance off of 9th Street in Lakewood, tell the security staff you are here to see the arboretum, and ask for a copy of the arboretum brochure.  There is no charge to visit.  Because we have many deer and the gardens historically featured woody plants, statuary and sculptures, we do not have many annuals or perennials.  The gardens are known for their overall themed designs and integration of historic statuary (many that are several centuries old), sculptures and woody plants.

Personal photographs for non-commercial purposes are permitted.  The grounds are not available for weddings or wedding photos except for people with a formal connection to Georgian Court University.  For more information about the wedding policy or professional photography policy, please contact the Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732-987-2285.  For more information about the arboretum itself, including guided tours (which can be arranged for a fee) or lists of the plant collection, please contact Dr. Michael Gross at 732-987-2373 or  Directions and a campus map are available by clicking here.

The arboretum is a member of the American Public Gardens Association and the Garden State Gardens Consortium.