Posts Tagged ‘Weir Farm’

Together with a good friend, OTH did get to the Weir Farm Open House on Saturday, June 11 and he was very glad that he did. The three buildings that are undergoing restoration were open for touring, the main house and two studios. When the restoration project is completed, targeted for late 2012, all three of these buildings will add new dimensions to a visit to the Farm.

Weir's Studio

J. Alden Weir's Studio

OTH always enjoys visiting the studio of a major artist. The most predominate example that comes to mind is the studio of Norman Rockwell in Stockbridge, MA. The point about the studio belonging to a major artist is that a successful artist can create space that is both personal and functional. Anyway, the two studios under going restoration were the work spaces for both J. Alden Weir and his son-in-law, Mahonri Young, grandson of Brigham Young. OTH is looking forward to visiting both when restoration work is complete.

Living Room in Weir Residence

Living Room in Weir Residence

The restoration work in the main house is confined to the first floor, of a three floor residence. The National Park Service has photographs and other documentation to guide the work. Although Weir acquired the property in 1882, the restoration work is aimed at restoring the house to a 1940 time-frame. At that time his daughter Dorothy lived on the farm, with her husband Mahonri Young. The NPS has a number of authentic pieces of furniture from that period that are also undergoing restoration and will be part of the display when the project is finished. It was pretty obvious that meticulous care is going into the work and the result will be a very accurate portrayal of what the house and studios were like some seventy years ago.  OTH took a number of photos inside the house and studios and he hopes, once the project is complete, to take the same photos and be able to present a before/after photo gallery. Stay tuned.

OTH mentioned that the restoration work is on the first floor of the residence. That’s true, but the residence project is far from limited to the first floor. An extensive installation of mechanical equipment has been completed in the basement of the house. There is a two boiler heating system for the house and studios in one room of the basement and in another a very impressive fire suppression system. In that installation there are 12 tanks of water, each with a capacity of 300 gallons. There is a collection of nitrogen tanks to provide pressure. The rangers told OTH that these systems will be part of the tours when the restoration is complete. When you go there, don’t miss seeing these systems.

Weir Farm Heating System

Weir Farm Heating System

Fire Supression System

Fire Suppression System

Well, if you didn’t get to the open house, OTH hopes this post will whet your appetite to visit when the restoration is complete and the house and two studios open for visitors. OTH will let you know.


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On Saturday OTH returned to Weir Farm to walk through the three gardens that are now part of the Historic Site. He can definitely recommend this short walk to anyone looking for a moment or two to relax and enjoy the tranquility of a quiet garden setting, or in the case of the Weir farm, three garden settings.

From the The Gardens brochure:
“For many affluent New Yorkers of the 1880’s, there was a strong desire for a tranquil retreat from the noise and heat of the city. J. Alden Weir was no exception. He acquired his Branchville property in 1882, and soon developed a deep affection for the landscape of his new country home. Over the years the gardens became a significant and endearing part of this rural landscape.”

Weir Farm Terraced Gardens

The Terraced Gardens

The Terraced Gardens
Even thought the NPS refers these in the plural, OTH considers these terraces as one garden (one of three). And they offer an opportunity to sit and take in a wide view of much of the farm, including many of the buildings, parts of several meadows, and, of course the terraced gardens themselves.

Weir Farm Sunken Garden

Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden, a few steps from the Visitor Center, was actually a creation of Weir’s daughter  Cora after she took possession of the farm in 1932. It had fallen into a state of shambles when the NPS acquired the property in 1990, but has since been restored as close as possible to the garden Cora had built in the 1930’s.

Weir Farm Secret Garden

Entrance to the Secret Garden

The Secret Garden
OTH finds this garden the most intriguing of the three, if for no other reason, this one is not next to the Visitors Center. Not that it’s much of a walk to see it, but one must decide to go there, or stumble on to it while just walking around the grounds. Like the other gardens, it has a selection of plantings that keep something in bloom most of the summer.

Open House June 11
As part of the Connecticut Open House Day, the Weir Farm Historic Site will be holding an Open House Day on June 11. This will be an unusual opportunity, not only to see the the grounds, but to have a look at several buildings that are now going through a lengthy restoration process, including the main residence and studios. The NPS staff will show and describe the restoration process to visitors on this Open House Day. these building are otherwise closed to the public while this restoration process is in process. The Open House hours 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Call 203.834.1896 ext. 13 for more information.

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NPS signToday OTH begins a series of posts about Weir Farm National Historic Site. The reason is, that in addition to being an interesting historic site, Weir Farm offers a setting for a short walk in a beautiful tranquil bucolic landscape. If you’re looking for a relaxing walk through some old farming fields and by a few rock walls, this is the place to go. Weir Farm is located in Wilton, CT, on the border with Ridgefield, CT.

J. Alden Weir, an American painter, thought by many to be the father of American impressionist art, purchased the farm in 1882 as a summer retreat. It remained in the family until 1990 when it was acquired by the National Park Service and made into a National Historic Site. For complete information about Weir Farm, maps and directions, and the many programs offered, visit http://www.nps.gov/wefa.

Weir Farm

NPS Visitor Center

From a walking perspective, Weir Farm and the adjoining Weir Preserve (not part of the National Historic Site) offer a variety of walking experiences, all on the easy side. This post will focus on on the fields around the NPS Headquarters and visitors center. Future posts will describe other parts of the Historic Site and the Preserve.

Depending on how you count them, there are about five or six fields around the NPS buildings. They connect and paths are mowed through the high grass-like vegetation through each field. The fields are bordered by rock walls built many, many years ago through what must have been back breaking labor. To walk through all the fields probably only takes 30-40 minutes. But the real pleasure of walking through the Weir Farm is not seeing how quickly you can traverse the fields. It is taking your time, perhaps sitting on a rock for a spell and taking in the landscape which is a mixture of red farm buildings, fields, rock walls, gardens, and, of course, hardwoods.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

On a recent walk, OTH saw two wild turkeys, about 50 feet from the barn. 25 years ago seeing a wild turkey would have been quite an event. Today they are are common. The habitat must have become more  favorable to the species. The Weir Preserve woods that adjoin the Farm are home to deer and many small mammals.

Weir Farm is not a destination for a strenuous hike. But for a pleasant walk through a series of meadows surrounding an appealing collection of old farm buildings, it would be hard to beat Weir Farm National Historic Site.

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