The Elizabeth Pond Memorial Building, called the Pond House, today is home to the Pond House Café. It is managed by a private restaurant company. It was built in 1959 in a “contemporary style” to replace the original c. 1870 Victorian Pond mansion as a community center and place for visitors to rest, use bathrooms, and have a snack.
The Conservancy was able to raise generous contributions from Ethel Donaghue Trust, the State of Connecticut, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to renovate the Pond House in 1996 to 1997. This included a new roof, reorienting the interior, all new handicapped accessible bathrooms, air conditioning, up-to-date safety equipment, and a front entryway and lobby. The City asked the Conservancy to hire and manage a restaurateur. The Conservancy hired the Food Group, LLC, under the direction of Louis Lista, and his team has made the Pond House Café a huge success.
The Pond House Café opened as a public restaurant and banquet center in 1998. The Garden Room hall can hold 200 people for parties, weddings, and fundraisers. Many business groups and non-profit groups hold their monthly meetings, annual conferences, and events at the Pond House. The Café has indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks the pond. By the way, it is called the Pond House in honor of Elizabeth Pond, not because it is near the pond.
The foundation plantings and general area around the Pond House and pond were very sparse and neglected in 1998. Over the years, the Pond House Café management has replaced perimeter plants and has added gardens and pathways to create a completely new garden area called the Pond House Gardens. An arched walk straddles a new garden of herbs and vegetables that are used by the café chef and enjoyed by guests. Large raised planters greet visitors with seasonal annuals and bulb plants. With the pond as a backdrop and tall trees as a canopy, the Pond House gardens and grounds are a lovely spot to visit.