Garvan Woodland Gardens announced a new addition to its Evans Children’s Adventure Garden: a $1 million treehouse.

The 1.5-acre Evans Children’s Adventure Garden currently features interactive garden rocks that encourage exploration, a 12-foot waterfall, man-made cave, bridge made of tree branches, maze made of rocks and more, to inspire children to explore and learn about their natural environment. The treehouse will further the garden’s mission to immerse children into this natural setting.

The dream-fulfilling treehouse is made possible by Sunny Evans of Hot Springs and her late husband, Bob, who committed $500,000 of a previous estate gift to create matching funds for a new treehouse. The treehouse is being designed by Modus Studio in Fayetteville.

“The Treehouse Project for Garvan Woodland Gardens will be a superb contemporary addition to the landscape and architecture of the gardens,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. “Children of all ages will be both educated and delighted by the Modus Studio design. The vision of Mrs. Garvan for both the students of the school and the people of the state continues to be of immense benefit for all, and we are grateful to Sunny Evans and her late husband for their commitment to that vision.”

The estimated completion date for the treehouse is late summer of 2016.

“The Evans estate gift will have an immediate financial impact on the Gardens, as well as an additional impact into perpetuity,” said Bob Bledsoe, executive director of Garvan Gardens. “Our gardens, and particularly the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden that Bob loved so dearly, will be transformed with their gift. As a friend of Bob Evans, it makes me proud that his legacy at Garvan Woodland Gardens is one we not only honor today, but it is also one that will be remembered for generations.”

The Evanses have a legacy of supporting the University of Arkansas, particularly the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design’s Garvan Woodland Gardens. In addition to the children’s garden, their prior contributions helped complete the sanctuary within the Anthony Chapel and provided funding for the Evans Groom’s Quarters and the Evans Celebration Garden.

Sunny Evans said, “Bob’s favorite quote was one he attributed to Winston Churchill, and he carried it with him always in his pocket. He strongly believed that with what you get you make a living, and with what you give, you make a life. Bob was a very giving person.”

In addition to Garvan Gardens, the Evanses have designated gifts toward establishing a scholarship in the department of music and an endowed Chancellor’s Scholarship. The couple also supported the Arkansas Alumni Association Cornerstone Fund and were longtime supporters of the Razorback Foundation.

In spring 2011, the Evanses were recognized as Chancellor’s Medal recipients for their extraordinary philanthropy. That honor was particularly meaningful to them, as they were presented the award by then-Chancellor Dave Gearhart, whom they greatly admired.

Bob Evans served as a member of the university’s Campaign for the Twenty-First Century Steering Committee and as a member of the campaign’s Leadership and Principal Gifts Committee. He was a member of the university’s Board of Advisors and the Garvan Woodland Gardens Advisory Council prior to his death in November 2011.


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