Green Hill Park
Green Hill Park (image from Destination Worcester)
Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial (image from Massachusetts Live)
Green Hill Park Farm (image from Trip Advisor)
Historic postcard of the park (image from WorcesterMass.com)
Backstory and Context
The first English settler to own the land which would become Green Hill Park was Aaron Adams, who purchased 81 acres in the 1710s from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Adams established his home and a farm on the north side of Millstone Hill, and in the 1730s the town of Worcester began quarrying the hundred acres adjoining his property. Aaron's brother, Thomas Adams, owned the farm by 1750, and four years later sold 180 acres to Dr. Thomas Green. Only three years later, in 1757, Green's son, Dr. John Green, inherited the land and built the family's first home on Green Hill, also known as Stormont. Over the remainder of John's life and the lives of his descendants, the family's land eventually increased to over 500 acres (including the quarry). Andrew H. Green, who would serve as Commissioner of Central Park in New York City beginning in 1857, inherited the land in 1848, and decided to landscape the grounds of his family estate. He also enlarged the family homestead by dividing it into halves and building a mansion in the center. His civil engineer brother, Martin, became manager of the estate, and built a dam in Bear Brook in 1878 to create Green Hill Pond .
Andrew Green left his estate to his nieces and nephews at his death in 1903, and the City of Worcester purchased the land from the inheritors for use as a park. The early years of Green Hill Park included a toboggan run, a World War I memorial maple grove, boating and swimming in Green Hill Pond, a tree nursery for streetscaping, a small zoo, a golf course, ball fields and courts, the Holland Recreation Area (containing an archery range, skating rink, field house, swimming pool, and a health course), and the Green family mansion, which housed a wildlife museum and municipal meeting rooms. Unfortunately, the mansion was damaged in the hurricane of 1948 and subsequently vandalized; it was demolished in 1957. In the same year, roughly seven acres at Millstone Hill were transferred to the State, becoming the Massachusetts Air National Guard Armory; ten years later, 4.5 acres were taken over by Interstate 290, leading to the removal of Holland Recreation Area from Green Hill Park. The quarry was used as a dump for a time, until, in 1973, it was graded and re-vegetated, becoming an informal sports field .
Today, Green Hill Park is the largest municipal park in the
city of Worcester. At nearly 500 acres, the land was the Green family estate
from 1754 until 1905, when the city purchased it. The park is home to two
ponds, an arboretum, hiking trails and a picnic grove, a playground and little
league field, a golf course, the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a
free petting zoo at Green Hill Farm. The Farm is open year-round, and houses sheep,
goats, llamas, pigs, chickens, peacocks, pheasants, and ducks [1; 2]. The
Vietnam Memorial, dedicated in 2002, consists of three sections within four
acres, which surround a pond with a central fountain: the Place of Flags, the
Place of Words, and the Place of Names .