Colonial-Era Farm Preseved
Coogan Farm, which dates back to 1641 and is one of the oldest farms in New England, will be protected and turned into a nature center, The Trust for Public Land and Denison Petquotsepos Nature Center announced today.
The 34-acre farm is in the middle of historic Mystic. "This is one of the oldest farms in New England. It is important to protect because it helps tell the story of more than 370 years of American history," said Dr. Rudy Favretti, a retired professor from the University of Connecticut, who has worked on preservation efforts at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
The Trust for Public Land bought the property for $2.8 million from the Clara Morgan Coogan Trust and sold it to the Denison Petquotsepos Nature Center (DPNC), which will protect and manage it through nature programs for participants of all ages. The Coogan Trust had earlier donated 11 acres to DPNC.
Charles J. Hamm, who along with his wife, Irene, were the largest private donors to the project said, "this farm is more than a century older than the state of Connecticut and has seen some of our greatest history and commerce, including building the clipper ships in Mystic. We need to protect places like this which so embody the best of our American spirit."
Alicia Betty, state director of The Trust for Public Land said, "We preserve land for people, and preserving land which helps tell the story of the American people is important for future generations. We couldn't have done this without the support of many donors like Charles and Irene Hamm, and we thank all of them, along with the team at DPNC."
Ellen Coogan Marshall, representing the trust which owned the land, said, "The family is so happy that this farm will remain the pure and natural beauty it has always had. We are pleased to know that many local residents, visitors and children will be able to enjoy this special place as we did for so many years."
Harry White and Bruce Littman, who chaired the local fund-raising effort, said, "This is a huge tribute to the efforts of more than 60 volunteers and financial contributions from more than 600 donors. Our success is also due to our unique vision for a park at Coogan Farm that combines the benefits of open space, nature and history with education, recreation and improved community quality of life. The campaign continues through the end of the year to ensure that we reach our goal by raising funds for bridge loan repayment, stewardship, endowment and preparations for public use.
"Closing on the land is a major milestone in our campaign, and is the critical first step in creating the nature park and greenway that we envision," said Maggie Jones, Executive Director of DPNC, which serves 50,000 people annually and was founded in 1946. "I am grateful for the support we have received -community, state and federal- which validates the importance of preserving this historic landscape overlooking the Mystic River."
The $2.8 million figure includes $1.7 million in private funds; $500,000 from the state of Connecticut, and $600,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bridge financing for the purchase of Coogan Farm was provided by The Conservation Fund’s Land Conservation Loan Program (LCLP) and by The Trust for Public Land.
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.