Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, CT
Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, CT



United States

Harkness Memorial State Park

Harkness Memorial State Park was originally the summer home of Mary and Edward Harkness, philanthropists and major benefactors of Yale University. Beginning in 1907, the Harknesses developed this 243-acre Connecticut estate overlooking Long Island Sound, into a gentleman’s farm. James Gamble Rogers was retained to remodel the interiors of the mansion and advise on the garden layout.  Wayne E. Stiles was hired in 1909 to design a large, formal walled garden, now known as the West Garden, consisting of brightly colored annuals and Italianate statuary. In 1919, Beatrix Farrand remodeled the grounds, converting an old tennis court into a companion garden, the East Garden, using soft-toned perennial plantings and Asian sculpture. She later revised the West Garden with a more naturalistic planting scheme and designed a boxwood parterre and an alpine rock garden. In 1949, Marian Coffin revised the plantings in the East Garden. Following Mary Harkness’s death in 1950, the estate was left to the state of Connecticut, with one-third designated as a summer camp and the remainder as a state park. By the 1980s, the formal gardens had disappeared. In 1992, the Friends of Harkness was formed to restore the East Garden using both Farrand’s and Coffin’s plans.

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