HistorySince the Arboretum was founded, housing has been provided for several of its staff members on the grounds. With the increase of surrounding construction projects, the Arboretum saw many changes to its land: the widening of Route 53 required the Arboretum to move four of its staff houses and Arbor Lake was being excavated for gravel for the tollway. The Board of Trustees determined that the four houses should be moved across Route 53 to the north side of the new lake. This employee housing area was named Arbordale. Additionally, the small community served as a site for home landscaping demonstrations for the public.
To expand the new housing area, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Sterling Morton, proposed they sponsor an architectural small homes competition. Howard T. Fisher, an architect and president of a prefabricated housing firm from Winnetka, Illinois, served as chairman of the project. In 1957 he announced the competition and assembled a jury of noted architects. Participants submitted designs for two and three bedroom houses which featured interiors that were inspired by the home's outdoor environment. The Morton Arboretum received 650 entries from across the United States and several countries. Seven of the submissions were constructed in 1958.
As the need for on-site employee housing decreased, Arbordale was repurposed. Though a few structures remain, the area is now chiefly used for expanded plant production facilities, made possible by the Growing Brilliantly campaign. The new facilities, completed in 2016, included a plant production support building, nine hoop houses, and two greenhouses which increased indoor growing space by 5,400 square feet.