Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Connecticut
A Connecticut State Park With A Difference
Harkness Memorial State Park is a most unusually beautiful State park.
It is located in Waterford, Connecticut, in the Northeast United States.
This was the home of Edward Harkness which was left to the State of Connecticut in 1950. The grounds not only contain beautiful lawns and picnic areas, but they lead to a white sand beach. And then, there is Eolia, the name of the incredibly beautiful mansion.
The formal gardens surrounding the mansion are fascinating. Around every turn you will find another beautiful surprise. It is truly a magical place, exhibiting many different species of plants and flowers.
We will tour the grounds in photos, so you may enjoy the beauty of this area, even if you do not get a chance to visit.
The Path Along the Picnic Area
This is the path from the parking lot through the picnic area. There are about 50 picnic tables available and a few of them have elevated charcoal grills near them.
The parking lot is ample and the path leading to the picnic tables is flat and handicapped accessible. There are quite a few paved paths. They lead toward the beach. The beach paths themselves, are sandy and not handicapped accessible.
What is so nice about this picnic area is in the hot days of summer there are beautiful large shade trees that cool the area.
The Beach At Harkness Park
No Swimming Allowed
As there is no swimming allowed, this beach tends to be less crowded on peak days than other Connecticut beaches. During the week, it is sparsely populated.
The sand on the beach is powdery white and if you are like me, and just enjoy sitting on a beach, listening to the waves and reading a book, this may be the place for you. I see a lot of people with toddlers on the beach. The little ones can just wade and play with their shovels and pails near the water's edge.
The beach is only about 3/4 of a mile long, but the soft sand makes it nice for walking along the seashore.
Most fishermen, locate themselves at the far ends of the beach -- away from the sunbathing people.
The nice part is, if it gets too hot, you can retreat to the shade of one of the big trees on the lawn of the mansion. It's not a very far walk.
Check Out The Beach - No pets allowed on the beachClick thumbnail to view full-size
Walking the Property Is An Experience
We took a nice long (approximately 2 mile walk) around the beach, grassy area and through the mansion gardens.
Admission to the park, includes free access to walk through the formal gardens and the outside of the mansion. Off season, admission is free. Check out the Connecticut State Parks links (below) for more information.
The gardens are maintained by the local garden club and are ever changing according to what is in bloom.
Let's Go Into the GardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Beautiful Architecture Of The Mansion Named EoliaClick thumbnail to view full-size
This beautiful mansion is available to rent for events
What do you think about a wedding here
I tried to find the meaning of "Eolia" the name of the mansion.
The dictionary has "eolian" - borne, deposited, produced or eroded by the wind.
It stems from the Greek word Aeolus - the Greek god of the wind
We Continued Walking Down The Driveway
With the mansion behind us, we continued walking down the long driveway.
We came upon a windmill shaped structure. One of the maintenance men came by, he said the tall structure was once a water tower and it used to have windmill blades attached for pumping water to the house.
The other was a large out building was a stable. However, although in disrepair, it was a lot more decorative than a stable usually is, and it had it's own gardens. It was used partially as a stable, but it was also a guest house for the servants of the guests staying at the mansion. Guests frequently brought their own maids and butlers.
Stable And Guest Servant QuartersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Some More Information About Harkness
Several DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) links for more information about Harkness and other Connecticut State Parks.
- DEEP's website for Harkness Memorial State Park
All the information about the park from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It includes information about hours and admission fees.
- DEEP's website for Renting Eolia for an Event
More detail about renting the mansion for a wedding or other event
- DEEP's link for information on season and Charter Oak passes
If you regularly visit Connecticut State Parks, you may want to obtain a season pass. If you are over 65 years of age, you can obtain a Charter Oak Pass. It is free and it entitles you to admission of most Connecticut State Parks
Harkness Park, Waterford, Connecticut
Located in a residential neighborhood, the park sign is small so watch for it
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© 2012 Ellen Gregory