Friends of Topsmead State Forest
Discover a hidden treasure in the Litchfield hills of Connecticut
In 1917, Edith Morton Chase received a gift from her father, 16 acres of pristine woods in the Litchfield hills. Today, Topsmead is a 510 acre state forest, gifted from Ms. Chase in 1972 to the citizens of Connecticut to enjoy and preserve. Her legacy includes diverse landscapes, including bike and nature trails, formal gardens, unique bird habitats, and a meticulously crafted English Tudor style cottage well appointed with her international collection of art and antiques. ...more
Friends of Topsmead State Forest (FTSF) is a volunteer non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose purpose is to work with the State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to provide programs and activities to promote, preserve, protect, and maintain the history, heritage and environmental integrity of Topsmead, thereby supporting the wishes of Edith Morton Chase as put forth in her will.
by Margaret Hunt
Pandemic Friendships & Cosmic Transitions...December 2020
Standing on the back porch of Miss Edith’s Topsmead cottage on this frosty late December morning, I fancy I can almost see it, out across the snow-blanketed field....Yes...I can almost see it... I know it’s there, just below the horizon: the ragged end of the crazy year that is 2020...the year that we can almost talk about in the past tense.... Along with all of its other craziness, 2020 has been the year when friends became emotionally and socially sustaining in the face of the pandemic’s demand for physical distancing and maintaining small social household bubbles.
I am having an ah-hah moment as I stand on the porch. To my great pleasure, I am realizing Topsmead has been a new friend for me this year and that her friendship (I think of Topsmead as a “she”) has helped to carry me through the challenges of 2020. She is always here, just a few minutes from my house. Turn right onto Chase Road, up the dirt drive and into the parking lot, out of my burgundy Subaru, pink leash on my poodle, and then the decision of which direction to go: up the gravel path to the cottage with its English gardens, or out across the fields towards the butterfly garden, or around to the right past the ponds and the back barn buildings, or around the Edith M. Chase Ecology Trail, or perhaps over to the forested Stairs Pond Trail. Choices, choices. All of them good. All of them friendly.
Topsmead has been the ultimate pandemic friend. Always welcoming. Always ready to share her fresh air and wide open spaces. Always listening without judging. Being with Topsmead did not require wearing a mask or physically distancing (unless, of course, other folks were near). What a gift her friendship has been!
And then there are the new human friends that I have made in the Zoom universe this year thanks to Topsmead: collaborating with Carol Gould on the writing of the blog and her Letters from the President, working with Jenny Riggs on the Give Local campaign, helping Janet Blauvelt to publicize her online Lectures on the Lawn series, and working with Jenny Riggs, Jerry Geci, and Katie LeVander to create a film about Miss Edith and Topsmead.
With this year’s Winter Solstice and the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, which hasn’t been this visible for 800 years, the stars and planets are aligning to make for a cosmic transition to 2021. Let us embrace the cosmic energy of the new year, celebrate the longer and brighter days, and look forward to once-again embracing old friends and new. -more Musings-
This documentary film chronicles the history of Topsmead, the summer estate of Edith Morton Chase, through archival photographs and beautiful film footage. The 20 minute film also features interviews with Topsmead historian Jerry Geci, and with Robert Orintas, the son of Miss Edith's chauffeur, who for several decades spent his summers there. The breathtaking aerial footage showcases the expansive Topsmead State Forest meadows and woodlands and the Tudor revival style, Cotswold "cottage”; an unusually well-preserved home of a bygone era that remains today essentially as it was when Miss Edith Chase owned the estate.
Lectures on the Lawn
Our popular Nature Lecture Series returns this March! The events are free and are planned to take place outside the lawn behind Chase Cottage. Check back here for more details and updates.