Lamont congratulates Wilton’s Weir Farm on new National Historic Park status

A modest group of local and state elected officials gathered at Wilton’s Weir Farm on Friday afternoon to celebrate its new designation as a National Historic Park.

Just a few hundred feet beyond the lectern and the eclectic group of representatives stood a woman in front of an easel, partaking in an “en plen air,” or outdoor painting on the warm Wilton afternoon.

Gov. Ned Lamont was present to commemorate the new historic park designation and, in the midst of his speech, paused for a moment to congratulate and thank the Weir Farm park staff.

“Hey, you guys up there who do all of the work around here, thank you,” Lamont said as he looked over to the uniformed park staff. “This place looks beautiful!”

Lamont said after the event that he holds personal memories of Weir Farm as well.

“I used to live up there on Nod Hill Road, I came down here and played,” Lamont said, eyeing the direction of the nearby Wilton road. “So, (I have) a lot of personal memories.”

Friends of Weir Farm President Judy Wander spoke of the work she and the nonprofit volunteer organization have done in the five years since its inception.

“How wonderful is it that, not only (for us) to celebrate in this magnificent landscape, but to celebrate together,” Wander said. “It has given us an opportunity to recognize the collaborative effort that went into making that designation change and it really acknowledges the evolution of this place over its lifespan.”

She spoke of how important it is to the origin of Weir Farm to keep the grounds soaked in an artistic vibe, referencing Julian Alden Weir, the park’s namesake and renowned American impressionist painter.

Wander cited how the grounds were initially established as a historic site in 1990, it came as a “collection of buildings and artifacts and a beautiful landscape that represented” the legacy of Julian Alden Weir and the subsequent artists that lived here. Under the stewardship of the National Park Service, she said, the historic grounds, gardens and buildings were restored meticulously.

The park, which she said draws roughly 38,000 people annually, “tells the story of the families that have lived here,” according to Wander.

Lamont said that parks like Weir Farm play an important role in Connecticut’s beauty and appeal. He said they also play a key factor in being able to destress after a tough year dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There have been more visitors to parks than ever before,” Lamont said. “Weir is one of the many treasures that make this state incredibly special. Not everybody knows about it. It is a hidden gem.”