The Friends & Neighbors (FANS) of Putnam Park is a not for profit group whose mission is to help maintain and promote the historical, educational and recreational values of Putnam Memorial State Park. The FANS group is comprised of people, like you, who have an appreciation for “this historical jewel in our midst.” Our purpose is to help insure that Putnam Park is preserved for future generations as well as to promote its unique heritage to the community today.
How the FANS Group Got Started
When Putnam Park was officially decommissioned & closed when State Parks’ operating budgets were pared back in the early 1990’s, a small group of neighbors and local supporters volunteered to physically maintain the park the best they could from 1991 to 1997. 1997 was the year the park was reopened, due largely to the persistent efforts of these Friends and Neighbors (FANs) who lobbied the DEEP in Hartford for staffing and funding.
On the heels of their success in reopening the park, the Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Park hired a restoration consultant to offer an opinion of whether or not the park’s 1893 pavilion could be saved. The consultant said “Save the pavilion!”. Next the DEEP State Parks Division worked with architects to retrofit the Old 1893 Pavilion into a modern day visitor center. The old structure was dismantled piece by piece, beam by beam, and numbered. A new foundation was excavated for a new walk-out cellar level. Then the building was reconstructed using materials that were still sound. Today the new visitor center is a all climate-controlled building with rest rooms. The very expensive project included a new and safer Rt. 107/Rt. 58 intersection, new parking lot, and a new main entrance into the park. The visitor center grand opening was held on October 11, 2005.
Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding has been designated as Connecticut’s first State Archaeological Preserve. The designation, bestowed by the Connecticut Historical Commission, recognizes the archaeological importance of Putnam Memorial State Park and provides additional administrative measures for the park’s protection and professional management. The “Friends and Neighbors of Putnam Memorial State Park” (FANs) initially requested the designation. It was later endorsed by DEEP Commissioner Rocque and was officially designated a State Archaeological Preserve on January 3, 2001.
The FANS Group Today
Today the FANS of Putnam Memorial State Park continues to work with the DEEP by providing input and support for efforts to maintain the park. In addition, the FANS group hosts many great learning programs throughout the year (see event links to right).
On the first Monday of each month the FANS group meets in the Visitors Center to discuss the various programs and initiatives. All are welcome to attend and become active in the FANS group.
To become an active member or donate to support the FANS mission, click here.
Here’s just a few of the things that members are involved in:
- T.G. Henderson, our Treasurer, keeps track of the funds and also keeps the store inventory up to date.
- Nancy Cowles organizes our annual School Days. Every year this programs is held the week before Memorial Day. School children from all over Western Connecticut are educated on colonial ways by several very talented re-enactors.
- Every two years, in November, Jim Freebairn, David Solek, and the CT 5th plan a special reenactment event. This event includes Dragoons, Revolutionary War soldiers, cannons, kids muster and a mock battle.
- Dan Cruson is our local historian who leads the yearly Winter Walk in December.
- Joey Gonzalez has developed and maintains this web site.
Interested in becoming a FAN? We could use your help. The only qualification is that you enjoy the park and appreciate its unique historical heritage- That’s more than enough to be a great committee member.
So how do you get started? Just come to a meeting held on the first Monday of the month at 7:00pm in the Vistors Center. Email us at: Friendsofputnampark@yahoo.com if you have any questions.