George Washington Carver National Monument Cultural Landscape

Leafless walnut trees in a row along a gravel trail at George Washington Carver National Monument
A row of walnut trees along the Carver Trail was planted in the 1950s by the NPS to represent a feature that was thought to have been planted by Moses Carver as a fence row.


George Washington Carver National Monument occupies 240 acres of historic farmland in Diamond, Missouri. The site's primary significance arises from its association with George Washington Carver: accomplished botanist, agronomist, conservationist, humanitarian, and teacher.

Carver, born to an enslaved mother towards the end of the Civil War, spent his childhood with his brother Jim, as orphans at Moses Carver’s farm from his birth in 1865 until 1876. Moses Carver and his wife, Susan, originally owned the farmstead on which they raised livestock, cultivated orchards, and grew corn among other crops. Although the Missouri State constitutional convention legally ended slavery in 1865, George stayed and worked on the farm until he was 11 years old. When not working, he collected plant specimens from the nearby woods and developed an appreciation for nature.

As the first national park established to honor a black American, George Washington Carver National Monument assumes further significance. Its second period of significance starts with the site's dedication in 1943 and continues to 1960 for the addition of the commemorative and interpretive elements.

Landscape Description

The National Monument demonstrates historic integrity, or the ability to convey its association with George Washington Carver and his commemoration, through the retention of the original location and maintenance of other aspects related to both periods of significance.

During the first period of significance associated with Carver’s boyhood from 1865-1876, the site contained cropland, prairie, woodlands, orchards, and livestock areas. Today, the majority of the undeveloped portion of the park is maintained as a restored prairie. Agricultural properties surround the park, which contribute to the setting.
A square foundation marks the site of a cabin where a clearing meeting wooded area
George Washington Carver Birthplace Cabin Site


Sculpture of a young George Washington Carver seated on a rock, near a footbridge through spring woodlands
"Boy Carver" Statue


In addition to the cropland, woodlands and three small streams defined the landscape during the Carver’s boyhood. Carver likely collected stones, flowers, and insects along Carver Branch, the longest of the streams. Few built elements remain extant from the first period of significance. The Moses and Susan Carver Late Period House (1881) and Carver Family Cemetery are two interpreted features. The hewn log cabin where George Washington Carver was born no longer exists. However, park signage represents a location.

The site’s contributing features related to the second period of significance, or Carver’s commemoration, include the George Washington Carver bust, "Boy Carver" statue, dedication plaque and boulder, walnut fence row, and cemetery wall reconstruction. The mile-long Carver Nature Trail connects and sequences the interpretive features of the landscape. Visitors first encounter the "Boy Carver" statue along the trail, then the Moses Carver House, open prairie, and Carver Family Cemetery before arrival back at the Carver Bust and the visitor center.

Historic Use

George Washington Carver wrote in his autobiography, “day after day I spent in the woods alone in order to collect my floral beauties, and put them in my little garden.” As a sickly child, Carver primarily handled less physically demanding or domestic tasks and spent his free time cultivating native flora. Community members referred to Carver as the “plant doctor” in his youth.
A calm creek flows through a sunny wooded area in the springtime
Carver Branch


Carver left the farm as a young man to pursue an education in Neosho, Missouri, and he performed domestic work in exchange for housing at Andrew and Mariah Watkin’s home. Carver left Neosho in 1878. It is known that he traveled to Fort Scott, Kansas and later practiced homesteading for two years before attending Simpson College to study art. He then transferred to Iowa Agricultural University and Model Farm, now Iowa State College, in 1891—the first black student to attend. He obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master of science degree in agriculture.

In 1896, Booker T. Washington offered him a position as department head of Agriculture at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. During his 47 years at Tuskegee, Carver educated farmers and the public on conservation, organic farming, and sustainable agricultural practices. Crop rotation proved integral in confronting the depletion of soil fertility in the rural South from an overdependence on cotton crops. Under Carver’s guidance, southern farmers began growing alternative nitrogen-fixing crops like sweet potatoes and peanuts. Carver also received patents for several industrial applications of common crops.

George Washington Carver invented over 300 uses for the peanut and 100 for the sweet potato, which helped create demand for poor southern farmers producing the crops.

A bust of George Washington Carver on a stone pedestal
Bust of George Washington Carver


Carver attributed his lifelong interest in agriculture to his childhood experiences. He returned to the Moses Carver farm once in 1884.

After Carver’s death in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation for the creation of a national monument at the former Moses Carver farm. The nature trail and commemorative plaque were among the first features added to the site. In 1958, under the Mission 66 program which intended to expand and modernize the National Park System, administrators approved a prospectus for a new visitor center and museum. Construction on the visitor center along with a new entrance road and parking area started the following year. The second period of significance ended in 1960 with the addition of the "Boy Carver" Statue -- the last major commemorative element.

Today, the National Monument honors George Washington Carver’s legacy and provides visitors the opportunity for reflection, solitude, and learning.
Redbuds in bloom near a trail outside the visitor center at George Washington Carver National Monument
The visitor center, interpretive trail, and George Washington Carver bust (visible through the trees) were added to the site in the 1950s.


Additional Site Associated with George Washington Carver

In 1886, after being denied enrollement at Highland College, Carver moved to Beeler, Kansas and filed a homestead claim for 160 acres. He lived and worked on his homestead for two years. Carver developed the site by adding a non-extant sod house, crop fields, and trees. The George Washington Carver Homestead Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Landscape Timeline

Date Event
1865 Carver was born to Mary at Moses Carver’s farm in Diamond, Missouri. His exact birth date is unknown. Slavery was abolished in Missouri on January 11.
1876 Carver left the farm to attend Neosho Colored School in Neosho, Missouri.
1890 Carver attended art school at Simpson College in Iowa.
1891 Carver left Simpson College to attend school at Iowa State Agricultural College.
1896 After graduation from Iowa State, Carver served as head of the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee Institute. During his 47 years there, he promoted sustainable farming practices including crop rotation. He also invented uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes.
1910 Moses Carver died and the property was sold to Samuel Warden.
1913 Property purchased by C.M. Shartel who used the land for cattle raising operations. This altered the landscape through the expansion of grazing land and built structures.
1941 St. Louis branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) submitted a proposal for the birthplace memorial.
1943 Carver passed away. Congress authorized the National Monument on July 14.
1950 Acquisition of the property was delayed but additional funds allowed the federal government to acquire 210-acres of the property
1953 Dedication of the monument occurred with the presentation of the George Washington Carver bust and development of Carver Trail.
1958 Mission 66 plans for the park approved, which included a visitor center and museum building.
1960 Dedication of the new visitor center and addition of the "Boy Carver" statue.
2005 NPS acquired the final 30 acres of the original Moses Carver Farm, restoring the historic property to its original size and configuration.
2007 Visitor center renovated and a 6,700 square foot addition added.

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Historic site
  • National Register Significance Level: National
  • National Register Significance Criteria: A, B, D
  • Period of Significance:
1865-1876: Boyhood of George Washington Carver
1943-1960: Commemorative features added to the site ending with placement of the "Boy Carver" statue

George Washington Carver National Monument

Last updated: December 3, 2019