Farmstead and Buildings

At the time of his death, Charles Pond left a working farm with various farm buildings and barns. One of the first things Theodore Wirth, the first Park Superintendent in 1897, did was to assemble the barns and other buildings into one unified area called the Farmstead.

The Caretaker’s Cottage, now the Conservancy’s offices, is a two-story, frame and gable roof house with twin chimneys. It represents a 19th century house that is typical of the times. Mr. Wirth moved the Caretaker’s Cottage from Asylum Avenue to its present location in 1898. It was the home of the caretaker of the grounds for Mr. and Mrs. Pond, and is the only building here that existed in Mr. Pond’s time. Documentation suggests it was most likely built around 1875, making it the oldest building in the Park. Subsequent Park Supervisors and their families lived in the caretaker’s cottage. The last caretaker, Tom Queeno, lived here with his family until the 1970s. It has been home to the Elizabeth Park Conservancy since 1977.

The Gardener’s Head House, a framed, one-and-one-half-story building that connects the greenhouses, is known by several names: The Office, Potting Shed, Head House, and Gardener’s House. Today it serves as the headquarters of the city gardener’s staff. It is clapboard, with gabled dormers in all four slopes of the hipped roof. The walls of the dormers are covered with fish-scale-shaped shingles. West Hartford records indicate that it was built in 1897, which suggests it was built with the first two greenhouses.

The cold storage building is a one-story, gable roof building. Eaves of the gable roof rest on a low brick wall. This building is now kept cold by refrigeration equipment, but it was built to be partly below ground, with large vent windows in its roof, to maintain a cooler temperature than the outside temperature. The purpose of a cold storage building is to store tender bulbs in the winter, and to manipulate the temperature of forced bulbs for the flower shows in March. Because the grade falls off, vehicles can enter the building at the rear. It is listed in records as being built in 1910.

The brownstone restrooms were called the House of Comfort and were built in 1935. This structure is an example of Colonial Revival Style architecture executed in brownstone masonry. An unusual combination, it was the trademark of architects Smith & Bassett. Hilliard Smith, (1871-1948) and Roy Bassette (1881-1965), who practiced in Hartford from 1910 to 1940. The  Conservancy has recently converted the brownstone building into the Park’s first-ever Visitor Center.

Other examples of Smith’s work include the Keney Park Golf Course Clubhouse, built in 1934, and the Bushnell Park Pump House, built in 1947, a year before he died. Smith also designed a brownstone residence at 1010 Prospect Avenue, just a few houses down from the Governor’s Residence, for Mr. William H. Putnam, who was a Park Commissioner for many years.

In the back of the Farmstead are the maintenance buildings, which house the equipment, gardening and maintenance supplies. The garage and storage buildings are in an L-shaped, one-story, brick facility located just outside the entrance from Walbridge Road. The construction was a depression-era project by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) or CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).