Monday, April 25, 2011

Reestablishing the Woodhead Memorial Garden

A handsome flat stone of Vermont Granite was installed on April 14, 2011 in a newly re-established memorial garden to the north of the Florence Griswold House. The garden honors the legacy of Daniel Woodhead, Jr.  Surrounded by thousands of yellow and white daffodils planted by Rob Wilbur of Wilbur and King, the stone is positioned in a stand amongst three maples. Designed by Mary Ann Besier and Ruth Baxter of Rumney and Associates, the slab was ordered, cut, scribed and delivered through the conscientious efforts of Joe Fulton of Shoreline Memorials.

Daniel Woodhead, Jr. (1911-1978), a retired business leader from Winnetka, Illinois whose family had roots in Old Lyme, guided the Florence Griswold Museum as its President from 1974 until 1978.  He hired Jeffrey Andersen as director in 1976 and shortly thereafter led the Museum in establishing its first Endowment Fund, which he generously supported.  His tenure as President was cut short by his unexpected death on June 18, 1978.  Many members admired his leadership and gave funds to establish the Woodhead Memorial Garden on the north side of the Florence Griswold House.  Designed by his successor, Dr. George B. Tatum, a distinguished architectural historian, the garden consisted of a rectangular space with a yew hedge that was intended to function as an out-of-door “room” for meetings during the summer.  Unfortunately, every winter deer ravaged the hedges and inadequate sunlight meant that they never matured satisfactorily.  In the 1990s the hedges were removed and, thanks to the acquisition of additional property between the Museum and the Bee and Thistle Inn, the area was opened up and returned to a more natural state.

Now, many years later, the Museum is re-designating this attractive open space as the Woodhead Memorial Garden. Thousands of daffodils bloom there each spring.  This highly visible area brings joy to visitors, residents, and even passers-by that drive by on a daily basis. 

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