Weir Farm could receive a new federal classification under the National Park Service, better reflecting what the park encompasses.
Advocates and part of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation want to change Weir Farm from a national historic site to a national historical park.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tuesday introduced legislation to make Weir Farm a national historical park. U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Changing this designation is the right thing to do and it’s the right time to do it,” Himes said. “Walking through Weir Farm in any season is a quintessentially Connecticut experience and now, with its extensive grounds and programmatic offerings, it deserves recognition as a full national park.”
The lawmakers said historical parks are generally considerably bigger than historic sites, preserving more buildings and acres. This, along with the park’s cultural significance, is why the delegation believes the park should be upgraded.
“Weir Farm is a beloved destination for art enthusiasts throughout the world, inspiring generations of artists to share their vision of the world,” Blumenthal said. “The site is more than just home of J. Alden Weir, it incorporates multiple historical homes, art studios, and farm buildings and is thus worthy of the designation national historical park.”
The park, which straddles the Wilton and Ridgefield border, has grown to 75 acres since it was made a national historical site in 1990 and includes a woodlands, meadows, a farm, gardens and Weir Pond.
The National Park Service manages 419 individual units, which fall under 19 different naming classifications. More than half of the places preserved are connected to the historical designations. Weir Farm is one of two sites in the National Park Service dedicated to visual arts.
“Weir Farm is a place where people can learn about artist J. Alden Weir’s work in the impressionist movement and is home to 75 acres used by landscape artists today,” Murphy said. “These historic grounds have witnessed an uptick in visitors, and more public programming with partners since it was restored in 2014. Weir Farms is a historic gem, and designating it as a National Historical Park will help ensure that future generations can enjoy what it has to offer for years to come.”
Liz Castagna, the Board of Friends of Weir Farms National Historic Site’s vice president, said the friends group and arts alliance believe the designation will increase the visibility of the park.
“As the not-for-profit partners of this wonderful park, we are pleased to have this opportunity to recognize how the natural, cultural and recreational resources of the park have matured and grown to be so important to the local communities, all of Connecticut, and beyond,” Castagna said.