Harkness Memorial State Park
What: State Park / Beach / Museum Tours
Where: 275 Great Neck Rd, Waterford, CT 06385 (map)
Phone: (860) 443-5725?
Museum Rental Availability: Eolia is available for rental from March 1 to December 23.
Wedding Info: Click for brochure (pdf)
Harkness Memorial State Park is a public park, mansion, and botanical garden located in Waterford, Connecticut, on the Long Island Sound.
The park was formerly Eolia, the estate of Edward Harkness, heir to a fortune initiated by his father’s substantial investments in John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, who purchased the mansion in 1907. From 1918 to 1929, extensive improvements were made by landscape designer Beatrix Jones Farrand. Eolia was left to Connecticut in 1950 and became part of the State Park system in 1952.
The park contains a 42-room mansion, with a surrounding area containing an Italian, Oriental, and Cutting Gardens, and greenhouses.
During the 1990s, an extensive restoration of the Harkness Estate and grounds occurred, supported by the State of Connecticut. The lead restoration architect for this project was British architect Roger Clarke of Canton, Connecticut, with contributions by British architect Peter Clarke and consultant on historic gardens Rob Camp Fuoco. At the start of the restoration, the “bones” of the gardens and rudimentary shrubs and perennials were looked at and installed. During the following ten years, a dedicated group of volunteers, the Friends of Harkness, and competent park supervisors and staff have refined the gardens and brought them forward to their current beauty and historic relevance.