The transformation of a golf course into an arboretum

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 1:22 PM CDT
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TWO RIVERS, Wis. (WBAY) - A former golf course in Two Rivers is about to undergo a major transformation. The property will become a living outdoor museum of trees and meadows.

It’s a mission that’s left John Durbrow without any worry of being bored.

“It keeps me very busy, I don’t need to worry about retirement activities,” says Durbrow with a smile.

Two years ago, the retired architect from Chicago, came across a former 65-acre Two Rivers golf course for sale and couldn’t resist.

“I had been looking for just a wood lot. We have 6 acres here on the lakefront, and I wanted some trees, so I was looking for a forty just to have as a side and found this place instead, so I decided to plant my own forest,” says Durbrow.

Durbrow and his wife formed a non-profit with a vision to create the Van Der Brohe Arboretum.

“The plan is that this is going to become a sanctuary for trees, birds and somewhat people. I think it will be a place where people can just come out and find solitude,” says Durbrow, who serves as the Arboretum’s director.

The first order of business this summer is to plant a 44-acre pollinator meadow, then next spring start planting all kinds of trees native to Wisconsin.

“Planting about 1,200 specimen trees and 700 berry-producing shrubs, call them bird berries,” explains Durbrow.

In the future, as fundraising efforts evolve, Durbrow plans to build a visitor center.

He’s having a ball creating such a unique green space, and he’s more than willing to share it with others.

“It’s a gift to myself, but the community is welcome to partake in it. Already even though the trails are not quite finished and things are very rough, I see people coming out and walking and enjoying it so I think it is going to be a real asset to the community, yes,” says Durbrow.

For more information about the Van Der Brohe Arboretum, visit

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