Keney Park

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Hartford, CT
United States
Keney Park

In 1893 Henry Keney bequeathed 533 acres of land for use as a park. Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot designed the park three years later as part of the Hartford Park System. The Keney Trustees gradually increased the park to 693 acres, before transferring ownership to Hartford in 1924. Charles Eliot, and then John Charles Olmsted of the Olmsted Brothers firm, designed the park as a series of regional landscapes, including meadows and forests. Park Superintendent George Parker and firm associate Percival Gallagher oversaw the realization of the park’s bucolic setting, supervising the movement of more than a half a million yards of earth, and the planting of many native trees and shrubs. A meandering carriage drive linked the varied spaces, including a 167-acre meadow (West Open), the Bushland (now Keney Waverley), the Ten Mile Woodland, and the East Open. Between 1927 and 1930, golf course architect Devereux Emmet transformed 110 acres of parkland into an eighteen-hole golf course. A meadow called the Sylvan Court, once located in the East Open, became a parking lot in 1976 and then hosted a compost facility. 

Surrounded by residential neighborhoods and divided by Tower Avenue, the park is accessed via three gates, two of which were designed by architect Benjamin Morris, and the third by Parker. The Greenfield Street gate, flanked by two granite pillars topped with urns, serves as a memorial to Henry Keney, while the entrance on Windsor Avenue consists of two curving brick-and-granite pergolas restored in the 1990s. From this entrance, the view into the park is disrupted by Interstate 91, which crosses over the East Open. Vehicular drives navigate through the park’s forests to reach such original landscape features as the West Open, Overlook Hill, and Turtle Pond, in addition to recreational fixtures, including basketball courts, a swimming pool, and playgrounds. In 1994 the Friends of Keney Park began efforts to improve the park’s trail system. The West Open is part of the Upper Albany Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.