Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Edgerton Park is a 25-acre land on Cliff Street that includes a greenhouse, carriage house, gatehouse, and bridge surrounded by a stone wall. The park was originally owned by Eli Whitney, whose niece Caroline lived on the estate in a grand Victorian house called Ivy Nook. In 1906, the property was sold to Frederick F. Brewster, a New Haven industrialist, who tore down Ivy Nook and replaced it with Edgerton mansion, named for its location on the edge of town. The house and grounds, designed by Robert Storer Stephenson, were completed in 1909 as a wedding present to Brewster’s wife, Margaret. In 1965, when Margaret passed, the grounds were given to the City of New Haven to be used as a public park. In 1972, the park’s conservancy was created to encourage local gardeners. Since then, the park has also provided educational programs for elementary school students to connect with nature.
Edgerton Park runs along the border of Hamden and New Haven. Filled with undulating hills and vast fields of grass, the park is a secluded world of its own. Once inside the boundaries of the steep stone walls, we found ourselves accompanied by a wave of nostalgia in the familiar landscape. We visited the park an hour before sunset, and a warm coral hue was cast over the greenery. We saw a few passersby walking their dogs and admiring the scenery, but the park was mostly empty by the time we got there. The trill of birdsong echoed past us, and we heard leaves rustle as the wind picked up.
We took the footpath up the hill, stopping when we reached the fountain to peer out at the hills from above. Around us, daffodils and tulips were in bloom, shades of amber and magenta resting among the foliage. The sounds of the fountain’s rippling water melded with that of the chirping birds, the melody leaving us soothed.
Then, we ventured to the greenhouse to observe the exotic plants, all ranging in height and color. As we walked in between the rows of the greenhouse, we recognized a cat resting by the terra cotta pots. After that, we headed back along the paths, admiring the towering trees and leafy hedges.
As we continued down one of the paths to the exit, we were accosted by a large squirrel, a startling end to our otherwise tranquil afternoon. Apparently growing disinterested after a few minutes, the squirrel scurried up a nearby tree and we made our escape. The park was a great place to explore, especially during a beautiful spring evening. The plants were colorful, adding a bright aspect to the dull COVID times.