The Friends of Harkness Memorial State Park, Inc.
Waterford, Connecticut

The Greenhouse Restoration Project


The historic Lord & Burnham greenhouse that once provided the seedlings for the Harkness gardens and later grew all of the flowers for the State Capitol building as well as other state and park facitlies, fell into disrepair many years ago.

Working with park staff in the early 1990s, Friends volunteers were able to work throughout the winter using the east end of the greenhouse to propagate heliotrope used in the East Garden each year. We quietly worked with the tender plants, inhaling the sweet vanilla fragrance of the heliotrope blossoms, training the plants to form topiaries for each corner of the garden. 


Over the past 20 years, the Friends have raised funds to underwrite 50 percent of the cost of restoring the greenhouse in equal partnership with the Connecticut State Parks Division of DEEP. The restoration will be completed in four phases. Phase 1, the restoration of the Potting Shed/ Headhouse and the greenhouse mechanical systems was completed in November 2009. The second phase, now underway ,will be completed in November 2012. This phase of the project includes the restoration of the complex's three central glasshouses. The cost of this part of the project is $950,000.

Phases 3 and 4 are the restoration of the East and West wings of the complex respectively.The East Wing houses the historic grapery whose vines have been sustained on the estate since 1930. Also in this wing are an an orchid room and a tiled fish pond where carp were wintered each year. When restored, the three room West Wing will become the primary production center for propagation for the gardens. If sufficient funds were raised quickly, the Friends preference would be to complete phases 3 and 4 concurrently.

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