The Garden On The Bridge
The Windham Garden on the Bridge is a much loved public park, but by 2020, fifteen years had taken their toll. Planters, railings, and paving were crying out for repair, and the two entrances, from Pleasant Street and Main Street, were never fully developed. The Friends of the Garden on the Bridge came together in May 2020 to change that.
Under the leadership of Faith Kenton, our goal is to make the entire park more attractive and people-friendly: a gathering spot with seating, tables, shade, and lighting, maybe even Wi-Fi and kids’ games – a place that can host a family picnic or a town fair. We want to use local materials and pay homage to local history. But there’s a lot of work to do.
In the first phase of the project, the weedy, overgrown Hillside just off Pleasant Street has been tamed, and terraces and a small amphitheater constructed. Granite benches were installed not long ago, and a new sidewalk and lighting are planned for summer 2022. The town has replaced missing sections of railing and installed attractive Victorian-style fencing. In June, vegetation threatening the granite stonework of the Bridge will be removed. Also coming soon: a town park sign on Pleasant Street to mark the Hillside entrance. When the dust settles, Hillside plantings will be refreshed and a pollinator pathway created.
The Friends have been fortunate to receive significant funding for this first phase of the Bridge makeover from the Pageau Foundation, local residents, and Sustainable CT. In addition, the Town of Windham has set aside capital improvement funds for long-needed repairs and replacements. Other grant proposals are planned.
Next up, the Friends will turn their sights to the Bridge, the Threadway, and the Plaza. We look forward to ideas and suggestions from all our friends and neighbors. What kinds of amenities and events would you like to see on the Garden on the Bridge?
Map of Garden on the Bridge
Our Bridge Story
(from the Annual Booklet, 2012-13)
The Garden Club of Windham was founded on October 23, 2002. Our founder and first President, Virginia Darrow, had a vision that included enhancing the beauty of the Windham community with gardens and well cared-for public spaces. She saw the potential for creating a garden on the abandoned Jillson Hill Bridge and the Garden Club of Windham as the group to share in that vision and bring it to reality. At the end of 2003 there were 38 paid members, 4 public spaces being beautified, and nearly $2,000 in the bank.
When Virginia Darrow passed away in August of 2004, the seeds she planted had taken root and grown strong. By the end of 2005 the number of public spaces had grown to 9 and we had our logo – Dahlia. In addition, funding was secured and plans for the Garden on the Bridge submitted (thanks to Kim Kelly and Ruth Cutler from the UCONN Cooperative Extension Office; Mark Paquette, then town Rec Director; and Joe Gardner and Brad Wojick, Town of Windham staff). Our efforts in 2006 focused on the Garden on the Bridge, with a dedication ceremony that October.
Club members participated in determining bed designs and plant lists. The gardens, planted in May, were in full bloom for the dedication of the Windham Garden on the Bridge to Virginia Darrow on June 2nd, 2007.
Since then, our members have created more gardens with the tremendous ongoing support from Windham Public Works, volunteer collaborations with Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut, Growing Stronger, and AIC. Gardens throughout our community continue to thrive!