St. Paul: David Barton Reflective Garden offers place for peace, wisdom, calm


Peace. Green and white signs in Dayton’s Bluff remind people to “Be Peaceful.” A small group of residents gathers at Mounds Boulevard and 6th Street to encourage peace, not war. How appropriate that a Circle of Peace™ labyrinth has recently become a part of the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. Tragedies are not uncommon on the greater East Side, but people who live and work here are stronger than any hardships they face. Most are, I believe, people of peace and people who look out for one another and for the good in others.

On November 7, Metropolitan State University and community members celebrated the installation of the first phase of the David Barton Reflective Garden and Community Labyrinth. David Barton was the first Dean of Metropolitan State University Library & Learning Center. David died of brain cancer on June 14 of this year. With the completion of the reflective garden and paths, a formal reception will be held in the spring.

The Circle of Peace™ labyrinth was designed by Lisa Moriarity of Stillwater. Ms. Moriarity worked with David Barton’s widow, Marjorie Savage, and University staff in designing the project to reflect David’s passion for gardens. Dayton’s Bluff residents attest to David’s appreciation and respect for the neighborhood and its people. The Reflective Garden and Community Labyrinth keep that connection alive. Nancy Bagshaw-Reasoner, Facilities Director at Metropolitan State University (and 28-year Dayton’s Bluff resident), reflected on its meaning to her:

“This project is a dream come true for me. The university is mindful of our neighbors and its doors are always open. This labyrinth offers a safe walking path, a peaceful oasis for reflection and relaxation. And it’s a place where neighbors of all ages, students, staff, and faculty can come together. In time, it will be surrounded by gardens and picnic tables. All in memory of David Barton, who championed the innovative partnership with the St. Paul Public Library to provide my community with its very first library branch.”

The labyrinth is located in the grove of trees on the west side of the library, east of the Swede Hollow bluff. It is at the ‘T’ intersection where Mounds Blvd intersects with 7th Street East. Though paths won’t be added until spring, the public is welcome to use the labyrinth anytime.

Note: Funding of the Reflective Garden comes from individual contributions. Bagshaw- Reasoner encourages donations of all sizes, noting that $3 or $5 can purchase beautiful flowers just as $50 or $500 can for this very visible and accessible community space. A library endowment funds the labyrinth itself. The endowment enables the Library & Learning Center to continue its commitment to community outreach.