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Austin Corbin's Animal Garden

A new NH Humanities to Go Program

In the late 1800s, banking, railroad, and real estate mogul Austin Corbin returned to his hometown in Newport to build a grand estate and buy out neighbor’s farms to create an adjacent 22,000 acre wildlife game preserve. The sanctuary was stocked with boar, bison, bighorn sheep, antelope, elk, Chinese pheasant, and other imported animals. The grounds eventually became a prestigious private hunting park and hosted illustrious guests including Theodore Roosevelt, the Prince of Wales, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Joe DiMaggio, Rudyard Kipling, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This illustrated slideshow features archival images and a discussion of the complicated history and legacy of New Hampshire’s own American Gilded Age robber baron. The talk will also highlight the important legacy of the role the Corbin family and park naturalist Ernest Baynes played in the saving of the American bison from extinction.

This talk can be a companion to viewing the upcoming Ken Burns documentary, The American Buffalo (premiering October 16 & 17, 2023 on PBS) and reading the accompanying book Blood Memory: The Tragic Decline and Improbable Resurrection of the American Buffalo by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns (Knopf, October 31, 2023). Corbin Park was home to one of the five founding herds at the start of the 20th century that helped to bring the American bison back from the brink of extinction.



New Hampshire Humanities Speaker Mary Kronenwetter holds a doctorate in educational research, policy, and administration and has held academic administration and teaching positions at colleges in the United States, China, and Japan. Upon returning to New England, she has had the opportunity to work at historical sites including Historic Deerfield, Enfield Shaker Museum, and The John Hay Estate at The Fells. Mary currently teaches for OSHER at Dartmouth and Adventures in Learning at Colby-Sawyer and has recently published the New Hampshire-based historical fiction, Pauper Auction

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