Hugh Taylor Birch (Class of 1869) was passionate about both nature and his alma mater, Antioch College. These passions were rooted in the deep soil of the Glen where he grew up. It was also evidenced by his gift of the Glen Helen to the College. 

In honor of Birch’s transformational generosity and his pioneering estate gift we have named our planned giving society in his honor.

Hugh Talyor Birch in Yellow Springs

Birch’s father was friends with Horace Mann and moved his family to Yellow Springs from Massachusetts so that his children could take advantage of Mann’s new educational vision. Young Birch grew up in the shadow of Antioch’s Towers and was educated at the village common school and the Antioch Preparatory Academy. The principal of the Academy was Edward Orton, who instilled in Birch a deep love of nature. They spent countless hours together exploring the Glen. Later, Orton became a Geology professor at Antioch College and eventually President from 1872-1873.

As a student at Antioch, Birch organized and captained the 1869 baseball team which—as the story goes—bested the Cincinnati Red Stockings. He organized a dramatics club and played Petruccio in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. He was one course shy of graduation when he left Antioch to study law in Chicago. Years later, Antioch presented him with his diploma—not just an honorary degree.

Birch married and had three children, practiced law, and became General Counsel to Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. His fortune, however, was the result of his work as a real estate developer. And, although law and real estate sustained him financially, he took his greatest pleasures in nature, where he found strength and renewal of his spirit in the woods.

A Transformational Gift

Shortly after his daughter Helen’s untimely passing from cancer, Birch gave the land that was the Glen to the College in 1929, which was then named in her honor as the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. Subsequently, in 1943 Antioch received from Birch’s estate a $1 million endowment gift (which more than doubled the size of the endowment) and another $500,000 to help maintain Glen Helen; (in today’s dollars these gifts would total $20.4 million).

These gifts ensured that the Glen would be enjoyed by Antiochians and visitors for generations to come.

Create Your Own Legacy

The Hugh Taylor Birch Legacy Society

A legacy gift to Antioch College is one of the most meaningful investments you will ever make. With a planned gift, you can show appreciation for the outstanding education that you received and, like Hugh Taylor Birch, ensure that our tradition of excellence is available for generations to come.
We invite you to put your passion into action by joining the Hugh Taylor Birch Legacy Society. Deferred gifts help Antioch College plan for our future and ensure our position as a pioneering institution of higher learning and applied liberal arts.

As a member, you will be invited to sign the Antioch College guest book which was hand-crafted by MacArthur Genius Award winner, Tim Barrett ’73, and was hand-bound in Yellow Springs by Hardy Ballantine. We will celebrate your generosity during Reunion Weekend and add your name to the distinguished list of donors on our website and Hugh Taylor Birch publications.

The information on our planned giving website will be helpful in learning all the different options available to make a lasting impact and investment in Antioch College.

Would you like learn about how you can leave a lasting legacy?

Please contact:
Susanne Hashim, Vice President for Advancement
(937) 319-0163