Elizabeth Park and Elizabeth Park Rose Garden
Elizabeth Park is home to the nation’s first public rose garden. the rose garden dates back to 1903 while Elizabeth Park traces its origin to 1894,. In that year, prominent Hartford businessman Charles H. Pond passed away. Pond's last will and testament bequeathed his home, along with the surrounding 90 acres of land, to the city, with the stipulation that the land would become a public park named in honor of his late wife Elizabeth.
Backstory and Context
The organization began their efforts to save the rose garden by first raising enough money to replace the rose bushes that had died of neglect. After restoring the garden to its former appearance, the Friends decided to raise funds and volunteer their time to provide ongoing care of those rosebushes and the park’s other plantings. The volunteer effort is still active under the authority of the Elizabeth Park Conservancy, a local nonprofit that holds fundraising events as well as contributing their time to restore and maintain the park’s historic buildings and grounds.
One notable absence from the park's grounds, however, is that of the original Pond house. This structure, having fallen into disrepair, was demolished in 1956, but was replaced just three years later with a building called the Elizabeth Pond Memorial. This attractive red brick structure now houses an auditorium, a banquet hall, a snack bar and an upscale restaurant called the Pond House Café.
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