Lyman Allyn Art Museum works to realize founder’s vision of a park


New London ― The Lyman Allyn Art Museum is working to revitalize its founder’s vision to build a park on his 12-acre property.

“We are celebrating our 90th anniversary and we wanted to realize a vision of our founder, Lyman Allyn’s daughter, to create a park with the museum, which will forever be free for residents of New London,” said Samuel Quigley. , the museum’s executive director.

Founder Harriet Upson Allyn was a lifelong New London resident and the youngest of Captain Lyman Allyn’s six children. In 1910, Harriet Allyn had requested in her will that the Connecticut Trust and Safe Deposit Company of Hartford use money from her estate to establish a park and museum.

Allyn’s death in 1926 marked the beginning of the museum, but the building did not open until 1932.

The Lyman Allyn Park never materialized, but Quigley and others are working to change that.

Ellen Anderson, the museum’s director of development, said he wanted to achieve three goals with the park: to become a stimulating and engaging urban destination with natural and ecologically sound learning areas; place the museum in a beautifully organized and environmentally friendly setting; and to provide the community with a regional gathering place.

Anderson said the museum, located at 625 Williams St., seeks to be the greenest museum in Connecticut. She said the park intended to include inspirational sculpture gardens, low-impact nature trails, and pollinator gardens and meadows to create a “safe haven” for insects and butterflies.

Quigley said the museum hired landscape architecture firm Mystic Kent + Frost in January and the firm created a landscape master plan. He said the museum was raising money for the park and applying for permits for the work.

The proposed park still needs approval from the city’s Inland Wetlands Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“If everything falls into place, we will break ground in May 2023,” Quigley said.

Anderson said the initiative could take the better part of three to four years and that she has no plans to close the museum at any time.

A welcoming green space

As the museum’s executive director for eight years, Quigley said he worked to revitalize the interior. From now on, he is trying to do the same for the exterior and to make it a “place of welcome and green space”.

One way to achieve this is to create an outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate up to 250 people. Quigley said people will be able to attend all kinds of events such as poetry readings, bluegrass and dance performances.

For a time, the museum’s front yard served as a parking lot for visitors. Quigley said it was “pretty unsightly” and not what was originally intended for the location. He said the museum was looking to resurrect plans for a long shopping mall, a lawn and a plaza in front that is flanked by trees.

In the new landscaping master plan, the museum car park will be relocated to the rear of the building.

Anderson said the museum would not remove its 9/11 memorial. The memorial commemorates those from the area who perished in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001. She said it will be revitalized and part of the property will be more welcoming, a place of peace.

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Mildred D. Field