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Founders Day

Otto Behrend

Founder’s Day
October 17, 2022
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

The man who started it all was born 150 years ago! In celebration of his legacy, join us for special evening hours and activities at the Nature Center. Tree-related activities and hikes will honor Dr. Behrend’s lifetime interest in trees. View a selection of historical photos of Asbury Woods. And what’s a birthday party without cake and refreshments?

Ceremony starts at 5:45 p.m. to plant a tree in remembrance of Dr. Behrend’s generosity and legacy that founded Asbury Woods.



When Dr. Behrend passed away in 1957, his will left his 110-acre farm to Millcreek Township School District for “educational and recreational purposes.”  This original gift formed the foundation for what has grown into present-day Asbury Woods, a 216-acre nature preserve that is owned and operated by Asbury Woods Partnership.  The Partnership is an independent nonprofit dedicated to a mission that reflects Dr. Behrend’s original intentions for use of his donated property.  Jennifer Farrar, Executive Director of Asbury Woods, notes, “Our present-day mission statement includes three prongs:  conservation of the land, environmental education, and outdoor recreation.  We are honored to carry forward the legacy Dr. Behrend created with his generous gift.  Over the years Asbury Woods property holdings have grown and we’ve been able to impact hundreds of thousands of students over the years with environmental education programs and offer countless community members experiences in nature.”

Dr. Behrend was a co-founder of the Hammermill Paper Company with his brother, Ernst, and father, Moritz.  He was born October 17, 1872 in Coeslin, Germany.  His father was a well-known papermaker who helped to establish a papermill in a wooded area of Germany along the Wipper River known as the Hammer.  Once the papermill was established, the area became known as Hammermuehle, which became the namesake for the company the father and sons established in Erie in June 1898.  Dr. Behrend worked alongside his father and then attended the University of Berlin where he earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1896.  He worked at various papermills across Germany before venturing to America to establish a papermill along the shores of Lake Erie.

During his lifetime Dr. Behrend was a great lover of animals and the outdoors.  Over the years thoroughbred horses were trained at his Asbury Farm, he raised many dogs, planted orchards, and experimented by planting various tree species to test in his papermill.