For immediate release:
May 8, 2023
HARTFORD (CT) – The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center announces the groundbreaking of a flagship urban greenspace—the only one of its kind in the Asylum Hill neighborhood. This refurbished space will be ecologically diverse and environmentally sound. It will offer neighbors, tourists, visitors, and staff an outdoor space to gather, relax, play, and reflect. Signage and interactives will also offer opportunities for all to learn about the historic Nook Farm neighborhood and the contemporary landscape.
“Harriet’s Backyard is an innovative project that gets to the roots of what it means to connect with the land and with each other,” said Karen Fisk, Executive Director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. “As the Surgeon General announced recently—the United States is suffering from feelings of loneliness. We have been isolated from each other by the pandemic, by feelings perhaps of barriers between us,” Fisk said. “Harriet’s Backyard, we hope, will help break down those barriers.”
Funded by state bonds and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, this project has been in the works for years. “We met together with focus groups from the community last spring, to find out what our neighbors would most like to see from this project,” said Beth Burgess, Director of Collections and Research. “They asked for a gathering space, sensory gardens, dog walking areas, charging stations, accessible parking, places to sit and enjoy the space.” They also asked that the grounds are accessible to people of all abilities.
In response, the Stowe Center has formulated an ADA, Site and Structural Improvements Project that prioritizes inclusive accommodations that help remove barriers for people with functional limitations. Those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, people who are Blind or hearing impaired, those who have intellectual challenges or neurological differences will feel welcome on campus.
“We broadly understand accessibility as an ability to access or benefit from any product, device, service or environment,” said Cindy Cormier, Project Director for the ADA, Site and Structural Improvements Project. “We want to welcome all people with and without disabilities and provide a place that make a day better by providing safe, comfortable, lovely space.”
The Stowe Center’s 2.5 campus will be environmentally sound and feature accessible pathways, seating, enhanced lighting, wayfinding and interpretive signage. It will also include multiple gardens—including native plantings, sensory gardens, and raised-bed vegetable gardens. “We are planning program platforms and art installations as well,” said Fisk.
The ADA, Site and Structural Improvements Project also includes restoration of the historic Visitor Center (1873) and Katharine Seymour Day House (1884), as well as accessible sloped walks into each space and additions of ADA bathrooms.
“These buildings are important historical sites,” said Cormier, who also oversaw the restoration of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in 2017. “During Historic Preservation Month especially, it is exciting to highlight the work we are doing to preserve them and thank the State and the Federal Government for their support.”
INFO ABOUT GRANT FUNDING
This project is supported by the State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic & Community Development, the National Endowment for the Humanities Infrastructure & Capacity Building grant, the Norman & Nancy B. Beecher Lifetime UniTrust, the McDonald Family Trust, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and anonymous donors.
The Stowe Center encourages all interested members of the Media and Press to call 860.522.9258 to set up a tour of the grounds.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a museum, research library, and program center in Hartford, Connecticut. The Stowe Center’s mission is to preserve and interpret Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promote vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspire commitment to social justice and positive change. For general information and updates, visit www.HarrietBeecherStoweCenter.org.
CONTACT: Christina Tom
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
860.522.9258 x305 | firstname.lastname@example.org