Friday, March 9, 2012

Harkness State Park

I've often thought the estate at Harkness State Park seems a bit out of place with its surroundings. It's as if this 42-room, Roman Revival mansion drifted down from Newport or Sands Points, before being washed ashore by the tides here in Waterford.

The estate was purchased in 1907 by Edward Harkness, heir to a Standard Oil investment fortune. Named Eolia, after the island home for the Greek god of winds, the "summer home" sits on a 230-acre point with sweeping views of Plum Island, Fishers Island, and The Race. Left to the State of Connecticut in 1952, it was not until the 1990's that the buildings and grounds were restored to their former glory.

Despite the building's Gatsbyesque allure, it is the gardens here at Harkness which are the prime attraction. A late February visit may not be the best way to showcase this, but I wasn't about to complain. Following the  pergola's circular path, there was beauty in the starkness of the grounds, its barren vines, and a steel blue sparkle reflecting off Long Island Sound. 

I suppose, in a majestic setting as this, one ought to think great thoughts. Grand settings make for grand ideas? Maybe so, but not today.  

Instead, I thought of the mild winter, the cold breeze, my muddy shoes, and how long I'd been away.

CT's Historic Gardens: Harkness