Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut
If coming from the south, take exit 33 (Den Road) off the Merritt Parkway. Go 0.25 of a mile to the traffic roundabout and turn right onto Roxbury Road. Go to the end and turn left onto Westover Road. Go approximately 1.25 miles and look for Merriebrook Road on the right. Turn right and go to the end of the road. If coming from the north, take the Den Road exit, make first left, then take next left onto Riverbank Road, continue south over parkway as road becomes Westover Road and follow as above. Look for small parking area near a red barn on the right.
The house on the opposite side of the road from the red barn is the original farm house (remodeled of course) that was here first.
1915 -- around this time the surgeon Dr. Robert Morris (author of 50 Years as a Surgeon and friend of the naturalist Ernest Thomas Seaton) bought the property and moved in with his second wife. Daughter Mary Walker, who is very active with the BOTSOC program, grew up in the farm house.
1930s -- sold the property to torch singer and actress Libby Holman. She was tried for the murder of her first husband. Later, she was heir to the Reynolds tobacco fortune. She used her tobacco money to have the mansion built here.
Libby Holman has been called "A musical and sexual revolutionary." This Jewish woman was a torch singer in the 1920s and 30s. She introduced many classic torch songs including "Body and Soul". And she invented the strapless evening dress as well.
She contributed to the civil rights movement by helping to finance Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to India to meet Mahatma Ghandi. She also fought against racism by combining race, sound, and sexuality to confuse the distinctions between black and white singers and thus "destabilize culturally fixated notions of black and white". Her Tin Pan Alley-era songs recently became available on Take Two Records: Libby Holman: Moanin' Low (Early Recordings 1927-1934).
(From: "Take Black Or White": Libby Holman's Sound by Jeanne Scheper
1940s and 50s -- Libby Holman threw fabulous parties with such guests as Elizabeth Taylor, Mike Todd, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Roddy McDowell, Imogene Coca, and Martha Raye.
1971 -- Libby Holman committed suicide in the garage of her Treetops mansion. She fended off development by buying lots adjoining her estate as they came on the market. She thought she could keep the bulldozers away by willing Treetops to Boston University, but about five years later, the school gave it back to her estate, citing the expense of maintaining the property.
Her estate was offered to the town of Stamford, but they turned it down because of the annual maintenance of $58,000 dollars.
There is a biography available: Dreams That Money Can Buy: the Tragic Life of Libby Holman by Jon Bradshaw.
1980 -- Champion International buys the property.
Later the property was purchased by International Paper.
A New York developer by the name of Brickman Associates wanted to built 55 luxury homes on the property. This energized the community activists and environmentalists/conservationists in the area.
2000 -- the land purchased by the Stamford and Greenwich Land Trusts and other institutions for $11.5 million dollars. International Paper retains the use of the 33 room mansion as a conference center.
(Info from NY Times Metro Section, October 18, 2000 article by David R. Herszenhorn and Greenwich Time, Oct 23, 2000.)
Carol Levine, 5/05/2002
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier canadensis (shadbush)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Castanea sp. (European chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) *
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Cornus alternifolia (alternate-leaved dogwood)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus) lots and lots
Euonymus europaeus (European euonymus)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Leucothoe sp. (dog hobble)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea) * planted
Rhododendron spp. (rhododendron) * planted
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut) *
Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry) *
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) *
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry) *
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum recognitum (viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle) *
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus) * fairly soon
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaf greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)
Actaea alba (white baneberry)
Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)
Ajuga reptans (bugleweed) * escape
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) *
Allium canadense (wild onion)
Allium tricoccum (wild leek)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium minus (common burdock)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) *
Cardamine pensylvanica (Pennsylvania bittercress) *
Chelidonium majus (celandine) *
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry) *
Epifagus virginiana (beech drops)
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Fritillaria imperialis (fritillary) * planted
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) *
Geum canadense (white avens)
Goodyera pubescens (downy rattlesnake plantain)
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Lamium purpureum (purple dead nettle) *
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) *
Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells) * planted
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil)
Nepeta cataria (catnip)
Oxalis sp. (wood sorrel)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal) * soon
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knotweed)
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) *
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) *
Pyrola rotundifolia (round-leaved shinleaf)
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved crowfoot) *
Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot) *
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Scilla sp. (squill) * planted
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Stellaria media (common chickweed) *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Tulipa sp. (lily-flowered tulip) * planted
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell) *
Viola blanda (sweet white violet) *
Viola sororia (common blue violet) *
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)
Carex laxiflora type (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass) *
Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair fern)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Athyrium thelypteroides (silvery gladefern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Trip Report: 5/05/2002
On a beautiful, sunny day a group of botanists from the Connecticut Botanical Society and the Torrey Botanical Society toured parts of the new park in Stamford known as Treetops and the adjacent Mianus River Park.
The group toured first the ridge part of Treetops. A number of shrubs were found in bloom including Staphylea trifolia (bladdernut), Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry), V. corymbosum (highbush blueberry), and V. pallidum (hillside blueberry). Among the herbaceous plants found here were the orchid Goodyera pubescens (downy rattlesnake plantain). Other herbs in bloom included Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry), Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower), Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal), and Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) and P. simplex (common cinquefoil).
We walked on the asphalt road to the 33-room mansion once owned by the torch singer, actress, civil rights activist, and conservationist Libby Holman. Among the horticultural plants we found in bloom were the shrubs Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea) and R. spp. (red and white azaleas), along with the herbaceous plants Fritillaria imperialis (fritillary), Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells), Scilla sp. (squill), and Tulipa sp. (lily-flowered tulip).
After lunch the group toured the east bank of the river in Mianus River Park. Among the herbs in bloom were Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard), Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit), Cardamine rhomboidea (springcress), Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh), Chelidonium majus (celandine), Claytonia virginica (spring beauty), Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower), Panax trifolius (dwarf ginseng), Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf crowfoot) and R. recurvatus (hooked crowfoot), and Viola conspersa (dog violet), V. cucullata (marsh blue violet), and V. sororia (common blue violet).
Herbs not in bloom included Allium canadense (wild onion) and A. tricoccum (wild leek), Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone), Chelone glabra (white turtlehead), Chrysosplenium americanum (golden saxifrage), Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches), Erythronium americanum (trout lily), Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot), Thalictrum dioicum (early meadowrue), Trillium cernuum (nodding trillium) and T. erectum (red trillium)
Total attendance was 6. The trip leader was Carol Levine.
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