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Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Connecticut

Updated on February 18, 2018
LiteraryMind profile image

I like to get outdoors and walk, especially if it's a natural beautiful surrounding. I enjoy sharing my favorite spots with others.

Front of Eolia
Front of Eolia | Source

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.

View of Picnic Area Off Season
View of Picnic Area Off Season | Source

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 beach

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Looking west from the middle of the beachLooking out toward Long Island SoundDunes between the beach and the grassy picnic areaGrassy area, where people play frisbee and fly kites.
Looking west from the middle of the beach
Looking west from the middle of the beach | Source
Looking out toward Long Island Sound
Looking out toward Long Island Sound | Source
Dunes between the beach and the grassy picnic area
Dunes between the beach and the grassy picnic area | Source
Grassy area, where people play frisbee and fly kites.
Grassy area, where people play frisbee and fly kites. | Source

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 Garden

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Swing open the green metal gate, and there is a topiary gardenOn the back wall of the topiary garden, there is a beautiful fountain.Along the many paths that wind around the mansion are spring flowers --April 2012-- blue Siberian squill.More stone paths lead to surprises.Along the path -- Lily of the Valley in May 2012A nice group of bluebells in May 2012Nestled in the garden footpaths is a little reflecting pond.Sunken Japanese garden behind the mansion.  The fragrance is amazing.  July 2012
Swing open the green metal gate, and there is a topiary garden
Swing open the green metal gate, and there is a topiary garden | Source
On the back wall of the topiary garden, there is a beautiful fountain.
On the back wall of the topiary garden, there is a beautiful fountain. | Source
Along the many paths that wind around the mansion are spring flowers --April 2012-- blue Siberian squill.
Along the many paths that wind around the mansion are spring flowers --April 2012-- blue Siberian squill. | Source
More stone paths lead to surprises.
More stone paths lead to surprises. | Source
Along the path -- Lily of the Valley in May 2012
Along the path -- Lily of the Valley in May 2012 | Source
A nice group of bluebells in May 2012
A nice group of bluebells in May 2012 | Source
Nestled in the garden footpaths is a little reflecting pond.
Nestled in the garden footpaths is a little reflecting pond. | Source
Sunken Japanese garden behind the mansion.  The fragrance is amazing.  July 2012
Sunken Japanese garden behind the mansion. The fragrance is amazing. July 2012 | Source

Beautiful Architecture Of The Mansion Named Eolia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Circular driveway leading to main entrance of mansion.  The mansion is available to rent for events.Looking across the gardens to a vine covered arbor adjacent to the mansion.  May 2012.The wisteria on the arbor In bloom in May.Under the arbor there is sitting.Above the seating is this beautiful ceiling.Seated under the arbor we can look across the gardens to the water.Looking across the main garden in full bloom in July.A close up of the fountain in the flower garden (July 2012)
Circular driveway leading to main entrance of mansion.  The mansion is available to rent for events.
Circular driveway leading to main entrance of mansion. The mansion is available to rent for events. | Source
Looking across the gardens to a vine covered arbor adjacent to the mansion.  May 2012.
Looking across the gardens to a vine covered arbor adjacent to the mansion. May 2012. | Source
The wisteria on the arbor In bloom in May.
The wisteria on the arbor In bloom in May. | Source
Under the arbor there is sitting.
Under the arbor there is sitting. | Source
Above the seating is this beautiful ceiling.
Above the seating is this beautiful ceiling. | Source
Seated under the arbor we can look across the gardens to the water.
Seated under the arbor we can look across the gardens to the water. | Source
Looking across the main garden in full bloom in July.
Looking across the main garden in full bloom in July. | Source
A close up of the fountain in the flower garden (July 2012)
A close up of the fountain in the flower garden (July 2012) | Source

This beautiful mansion is available to rent for events

What do you think about a wedding here

See results

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 Quarters

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Headed down the driveway toward the stable and guest servant quarters.This is a water tower that used to have windmill blades on it to pump the water.The front of the stable and servant quarters.The gardens on the side of the servant quarters.Markers in the servant's quarters garden for the Harknesses' English terriersSome more markers --for their English terriers.Across to the parking lot from the front of the stable.  Daffodils in bloom in April.
Headed down the driveway toward the stable and guest servant quarters.
Headed down the driveway toward the stable and guest servant quarters. | Source
This is a water tower that used to have windmill blades on it to pump the water.
This is a water tower that used to have windmill blades on it to pump the water. | Source
The front of the stable and servant quarters.
The front of the stable and servant quarters. | Source
The gardens on the side of the servant quarters.
The gardens on the side of the servant quarters. | Source
Markers in the servant's quarters garden for the Harknesses' English terriers
Markers in the servant's quarters garden for the Harknesses' English terriers | Source
Some more markers --for their English terriers.
Some more markers --for their English terriers. | Source
Across to the parking lot from the front of the stable.  Daffodils in bloom in April.
Across to the parking lot from the front of the stable. Daffodils in bloom in April. | Source

Some More Information About Harkness

Several DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) links for more information about Harkness and other Connecticut State Parks.

Harkness Park, Waterford, Connecticut

Located in a residential neighborhood, the park sign is small so watch for it

A
:
275 Great Neck Road, Waterford, Connecticut

get directions

Anyone may leave a comment -- you do need to be a Hubpages member

© 2012 Ellen Gregory

Do you think you would like to visit this park?

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    • Joebeducci profile image

      Joebeducci 

      4 years ago

      It looks very beautiful, very good place for an important event! Thanks for sharing, Greets, Joebeducci

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 

      5 years ago

      What a beautiful spot! I confess that I never really thought of Connecticut as having many beaches (for some reason, I thought of industrial ports only), so you educated me today!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Beautiful pictures.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      6 years ago from Washington KS

      I've never been to CT so enjoyed visiting Harkness vicariously through your lens.

    • profile image

      mizrae 

      6 years ago

      I don't know that I'll ever get to Connecticut, but you've certainly brought the park to us in your pictures.

    • LiteraryMind profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @GGNT15: Thank you -- you know, I never noticed the clouds until you pointed it out

    • GGNT15 profile image

      GGNT15 

      6 years ago

      The top beach photo is great and has cool looking clouds!

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 

      6 years ago

      yes I think I would :)

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 

      6 years ago

      I would love to visit this park one day. What an unbelieveably gorgeous place!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Yes I would. I love walking around parks. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to your next trip and photos

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      6 years ago

      Looks like a perfect spring getaway.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 

      6 years ago

      Yes. I'd enjoy visiting. It looks very nice.

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