Way back When... 2005
In 2005 the lovely 16 acres Caryl and Edna Haskins Preserve on Green Acre Lane opened to the public. Mr. and Mrs. Haskins both noted scientists, authors, and rare tree collectors left their 22 acre estate in the middle of Westport to the Aspetuck Land Trust. Their bequest stipulated that their home and greenhouses be demolished, the six acres sold, and the proceeds placed in a fund to create and maintain a nature preserve in their name.
This hidden gem off Compo Road South includes flat walking trails, meadows, two ponds, a spectacular collection of rare trees with picnic tables and benches to appreciate it all. Their property is a “preserve” not a “town park”, there are no garbage cans to avoid parasites, so all trash and dog litter has to be taken out to maintain the beauty of the natural landscape.
Caryl and Edna Haskins were both noted for their pioneering work in ant biology. They had no children and traveled the world attending conferences and collecting plant specimens. Caryl was former President of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, a board member of the Smithsonian, and a trustee of the National Geographic Society. He wrote scientific books about ants and about the Amazon River. Caryl also founded Haskins Laboratories which is now affiliated with Yale University, from which he graduated in 1930. He earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1935.
The Haskins collected small trees from their worldwide travels to grow in their greenhouse and then transplant on their property. Former Westport Tree Warden Donald Snook labeled 50 trees on the Haskins property. Along the canal-way there is a cluster of towering dawn Redwoods. On stands 108 feet tall and is listed a “notable tree” by the Connecticut Botanical Society. The other notable tree is a 24 foot tall Southern Magnolia.
The preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk and is a quiet peaceful retreat any time of year.
Margaret Mazer for the Westport Historical Society. Visit westporthistory.org for information on membership and upcoming programs. Please visit the Remarkable Gift Shop for unique holiday gifts about Westport.