Contact: Janet L. Serra For Immediate Release Ph: 800-663-1273 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org On-line pressroom: http://www.litchfieldhills.com Frances Osborne Kellogg
If you saw a photo of Frances Osborne Kellogg in one of her elegant gowns and enormous hats, circa 1910, you might be surprised to know she was a successful business executive.
Yet in 1907 at age 31, in an era when precious few women were active in business, she not only took over the affairs of her late father but greatly enhanced his fortune, becoming president of two companies, founder of a third and treasurer of a fourth. Before her death, Frances deeded her 350-acre property in Derby to the State of Connecticut to form a state park, now known as Osbornedale State Park.
March has been declared Women's Month, and Frances Osborne is one of four extraordinary women, past and present, whose stories and legacies are being celebrated in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut. Their little-publicized generosity as preservationists is responsible for some of the region's most precious and beautiful natural areas.May White
The portrait of May White drawn by Charles Dana Gibson depicts a woman described as really beautiful, petite, with charming manners, always thoughtful of others. Born in 1880, May was twenty-one years old when her mother died. Her youngest brother, ten-year-old Alain, was a delicate child and May took over his care, becoming his devoted nurse and companion, a role that later was gratefully reversed by her brother when May became old and frail. Their siblings preferred living in New York City, but May and Alain loved the country, and became owners of the family home, Whitehall, in Litchfield. Ardent conservationists long before others recognized the need to save open space, they determined to preserve the natural beauty they so enjoyed. Starting in 1908, they quietly began to buy up abandoned farms, scenic areas, waterfalls and mountains. In 1913, the fiftieth anniversary of the family coming to Litchfield, they formed a non-profit foundation in their parents memory. Knowing the towns could not afford to lose the taxes on this land, the White Memorial Foundation became and still is a voluntary taxpayer.
The 4000 acres of White Memorial Conservation Center bear the name of May and Alain White and some of the remains of Whitehall are now the Center's Nature Museum. But these are only part of their great legacy. The 6,000 acres they donated to the state include Mohawk Forest and Mountain in Cornwall and Goshen, the People's Forest in Barkhamsted and Macedonia Brook and Kent Falls, the nucleus of Connecticut's park and forest system.Edith Morton Chase
Like Frances Osborne, Edith Morton Chase was the daughter of a tycoon, Henry Sabin Chase, the president of Chase Brass and Copper Company in an era when Waterbury was the Brass Capital of the world. But Miss Chase was a clever businesswoman on her own. She built up her financial inheritance as well as her real estate holdings. In 1925, she hired the noted architect Richard Henry Dana, Jr. to help her design and build a landmark English Tudor style home to replace the rustic cabin on 16 acres left to her by her father. In one of her most significant acquisitions, she purchased the Buell Farm in 1927 to extend the property, which was renamed Topsmead Farm to reflect its location at the "top of the meadow".
The farm, a model of productivity, produced the food used on the estate. In addition to vegetable and flower gardens there were beef cattle, poultry, sheep, pigs, and at one time, draft horses. When she died in 1972, Edith Chase left her beloved country estate to the people of Connecticut to be known as Topsmead State Forest, with an endowment to help insure it would remain as she had requested in her will, "in a state of natural beauty".Ruth Henderson
Not all of the heroines of the Litchfield Hills are in the past. Ruth Henderson, is more than the widow of the well known musician Skitch Henderson. Ruth is a writer, chef and entrepreneur on her own. She created the Silo, a converted hay barn that is a creative country store, art gallery and cooking school on the Henderson's Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford.
Today, the Silo is part of the Hunt Hill Farm Trust with profits going to the trust formed by Ruth and her late husband to preserve the land and buildings of the farm. Born in Germany and forced to leave after the devastation of World War II, Ruth says "I lost everything as a little girl; I just what to make what I have here last." The couple bought their Connecticut farm as a weekend home in 1968 and became so attached that they moved in full time four years later. Increasingly concerned with the development they saw all around them, they sought a way to save the farm land, placing 82 acres into a charitable remainder trust that will insure it is preserved. Ruth's current project, in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute and Western Connecticut State University, is to create the Henderson Center for Culture and Creative Arts to be housed in the farm's historic buildings. It will include a Living Museum honoring her husband's career, a loving tribute from a remarkable woman.
For more information on the history of Northwest Connecticut and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut, contact the Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or check the Internet at www.litchfieldhills.com.