More information
Nancy Osler
Managing Director
The Archbold Center/Springfield Guest House
Imperial Highway
Box 1595, Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica

Office: 1 (767) 449-3026
Facebook: Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center

Springfield Courtyard Courtyard of the Archbold Center

Springfield's stately splendour rarely receives more than a passing glance when driving along the Imperial Road to or from the airport. The complex of aged wooden buildings with green galvanised roofs is located on the northern side of the road, a few miles inland from Canefield. It overlooks the Antrim Valley down to the Caribbean Sea.

Hiking trail View of the valley
From left: Window of the conference room in the main lodge; View of the Butterfly Garden and the Antrim Valley from the terrace

Sign at the entrance of the Springfield Plantation
At 1,200 feet above sea level, Springfield's 190 acres, which include a former estate known as Mount Joy, comprise more than 150 acres of rainforest, as well as agricultural land. It is a haven for numerous species of tropical birds, reptiles and flora. The property now houses an international field research station, which is utilised by international students, academic researchers, visitors and Dominican nature lovers.

What little is known about the estate's early history is typical of smaller plantations in Dominica. It was apparently established by French planters in the mid-18th century. Most of the proprietors were members of the Bellot family. Charlie Bellot sold it in the mid-1930's to John Archbold, a wealthy American philanthropist. He owned the property for about 55 years and then bequeathed it to its present owners, Clemson University in the U.S.A. Currently, the property is leased from Clemson and operates in partnership with the aforementioned institution as a Dominican non-profit research and education organisation called the 'Archbold Center'.

John Archbold Family House
The house of John Dana Archbold's family, built in the 1960's
From an architectural perspective, it has been suggested that the supporting beams in the main lodge or 'great house', which is now the dining room, date back to the mid-1700's. In the 1920's, the buildings on the property were apparently restructured and renovated. Kitchens and guest rooms were constructed between the mid-1940's–60's. John Archbold added a manager's house, now called 'Stream House.' He also built a home for his family and added other structures in the 1960's.

Throughout Springfield's existence, the principle crops on the plantation varied for a number of reasons, including hurricanes and diseases. The 86 acre Mount Joy Estate, which is now part of Springfield, once had a mill that produced lime juice from about 6,000 trees.[1] Produce would also be grown to reflect market trends and demands of the day. The types of crops grown over time at Springfield included cloves, nutmegs, citrus, limes, sugar cane, coffee, cocoa and bananas. Beekeeping was once managed in the 'Bee House'.
1. Mount Joy by Stephen Hawys, London: Duckworth, 1968, pp. 63–79.
Map of Springfield Map of Springfield & Mount Joy Plantation
1. Main Lodge: Dining hall, classrooms, laboratories, library and dormitories
2. Butterfly Garden
3. Stream House
4. Garage and workshop
5. Springfield Vegetable Garden
6. Old O'Neal House
7. O'Neal House
8. Mount Joy Ruins
9. Bee House
10. Archbold Family House
11. La Cimetiere

When British writer Alec Waugh visited John Archbold at Springfield [in 1948?], he was told by Archbold that "He had come on a cruise [in 1934]; meaning to leave that evening, and suddenly, like that, he had bought himself an estate. He was specialising now in oranges."[2] He also cultivated bananas and was involved in a number of other agricultural projects.
2. "Typical Dominica (written in 1948)" in Love and the Caribbean by Alec Waugh, N.Y: Paragon House, 1991, p. 280.

The archival Finding Aid to his papers at Clemson University notes that Mr. Archbold "…developed a strong interest in tropical agriculture and eco-systems… he supported research [on Dominica's] flora and fauna. He made many efforts to promote new crops and products as well as tourism."[3] In 1975, he donated about 1,000 acres of the Middleham Falls Estate to official bodies which helped create Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
3. John Archbold Papers, 1934–1994 (John Dana Archbold, 1910–1993), Mss 261, Clemson University, South Carolina, U.S.A., p. 1.

After the devastation of Hurricane David in 1979, agricultural ventures ceased. At that time, Springfield became Government Headquarters for about a year and former Prime Minister O.J. Seraphin was installed there.

Guest room Guest room in the Main Lodge
Rooms were made available to overnight guests by the late 1950ís. Certain celebrities and dignitaries have stayed at Springfield including entertainer Jimmy Buffet and royalty from Italy. Guests are still welcome by reservation.

In 1989, John Archbold generously donated about 190 acres of Springfield to Clemson University. John Kelly, the University's Vice-President for Public Service and Agriculture stated that: "John Archbold selected Clemson University to realise his vision of international collaboration in environmental research."[4] Under Clemson's directorship, along with an international consortium of universities, the then-named 'Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center' at Springfield began in earnest.
4. "Caribbean Connections" by Debbie Dalhouse in Clemson World Online Summer 2006, vol. 59, no. 3.
Butterfly feeding in the Butterfly Garden

Between 1989 and 1994, the institution re-evaluated its objectives. After that time, a natural history collections library was established. In addition, there is an on-site repository of students' investigative material which dates back to 1995. A catalogue of all research based at Springfield since 2005 has been compiled. An insect collection and herbarium are also found on the premises. The public may access these materials with advance notice.

In 2006, further structural enhancements were made possible by Clemson University, who invested almost US$95,000 to renovate and restore parts of the property. In addition, the National Science Foundation gave a substantial grant to Springfield to assist with building upgrades and the purchase of laboratory and learning equipment.

The Archbold Center at Springfield provides classrooms, laboratories and dormitories for the students and professors. The latest technological features include a satellite system, wireless internet and video conferencing which permit easy access to distance education and information exchange.

In addition, there is a close connection with the Dominican community. "My job is to encourage and support strong collaboration with local organisations at every opportunity," says Nancy, "This is an experiential learning centre. The educational experience is enhanced through mutual benefits by actively working with community groups or NGO's on specific projects."

Students dining Student research Lab tour
From left: Students from Texas A&M University, University of St. Cloud, Clemson University and The Citadel at dinner; State University of New York College of Science and Forestry undergraduate student studying water turbidity in the Clark Hall river; Student conducting lab tour to students from Primary School
More than a dozen universities in the U.K. and North America send students and faculty to Springfield on an annual basis to pursue their tropical research. High schools from all over the region spend time at Springfield to learn about the forest, culture, and climate or improve their English language skills. Local and international workshops, weddings and fundraisers are hosted there as well.

During peak periods, over a dozen Dominican staff members attend to various functions that permit the smooth operation of the Archbold Center. They assist with kitchen duties, housekeeping, gardening, library, classroom, IT and the reception office.

Nancy Osler, Managing Director of the Archbold Center emphasises that research undertaken at Springfield is "more than biologically related research." She stresses that researchers from other disciplines come here to examine such topics as emerging economic development, tourism and education. "We promote inter-disciplinary research collaboration—to create a high level of academic diversity.

Students on farm tour Local events
From left: Students from St. Lukeís Primary School on Springfield vegetable garden tour; Swinging Stars band playing to packed crowd at local fund-raiser
In addition, there is a close connection with the Dominican community. "My job is to encourage and support strong collaboration with local organisations at every opportunity," says Nancy, "This is an experiential learning centre. The educational experience is enhanced through mutual benefits by actively working with community groups or NGO's on specific projects."

More activities are in the planning stages, including organic garden plots and 'interactive learning' experiences for younger students. Public outreach will be highlighted through summer internships and after-school programs.

Conference room window Royal Palms Sunset view
From left: Window Hiking trail to Massacre River; Alley of Royal Palms along path to Butterfly Garden; View of sunset from the terrace
The Archbold Centre at Springfield endeavours to be a significant asset to the country. Its programs and facilities assist in enabling Dominica to provide an incredible learning experience to both international and local students, researchers and nature enthusiasts.

The Archbold Center/Springfield Guesthouse Dominica. [Pamphlet]. 2008.

Brooks, Sharon Lee. Land Use History of Springfield and Mount Joy Estates, Dominica, West Indies. [Manuscript] State University of New York, April 23, 1992.

Clemson University Library, Clemson, South Carolina, U.S.A. John Dana Archbold, 1910–1993. Register of his Papers, 1935–1994.

Dalhouse, Debbie. "Caribbean Connections" in Clemson World Online Summer 2006, vol. 59 #3.

Hawys (Haweis), Stephen. Mount Joy. London: Duckworth, 1968.

Heller, Ben A. and Hope Hollocher. Ecotopias, pp. 10–12.

Honychurch, Lennox. Dominica; Isle of Adventure. London: MacMillan, 1998.

Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island. London: MacMillan, 1995.

Nathan, Joan. 'Winter in the Sun: Discovering Dominica' in New York Times. December 9, 1990.

SHAPE Dominica. (Society for Heritage, Architecture, Preservation & Enhancement. Plantation Architecture.

Waugh, Alec. 'Typical Dominica [1948].' in Love and the Caribbean. N.Y.: Paragon, 1991.

Interviews, Correspondence, Conversations
George-Dill, Mona. Former Manager, Springfield Plantation. Telephone Conversation. January 8, 2009.

Honychurch, Lennox. National Historian of Dominica. Correspondence. November 24, 2008.

Osler, Nancy. Managing Director, Archbold Center Springfield Plantation, Dominica. Personal Interview, November 19, 2008. Telephone Conversation, January 12, 2009. Editorial review, March 23, 2009.