When Frank Harden built what is now Harden House Museum, it was no whim. Frank lived in NYC and wanted an escape. He wanted a getaway into the country that would remind him of where he grew up, in Northern Ireland. He searched NY, NJ and into CT and all over New England. He refused to settle and then was shown this property along the Still River here in New Milford. The property was that of the Golembeski family and had been used as farm land, but only a part of it. The rest was swampland and quite unusable. Frank didn't see it that way. He saw opportunity. What sold him most on the property is in this photograph taken by Tom Allen of New Milford this past week. The bend of the Still River at the falls (referred to as the Great Falls or Elbow Falls) reminded Frank of Ireland, which was where he grew up as a boy. If you visit it today, aside from the condos through the trees, you might say the same. Back when he made the purchase, Frank could see only a couple old barns in this same location. They likely had belonged to the old Still River Iron Works, but overall it has the feel of old Irish country.
Frank purchased the property and built the house to view the Elbow Falls. The house was built by HH Taylor and Sons, here in New Milford and completed by 1942. The New Milford Times featured a front page story featuring the Hardens' house on April 30, 1942 as it was almost completed. What I love is how this was a simpler time where people could read a story about a home on an estate. It's truly a wonderful story.
This hidden area of the falls was not well known to anyone in Lanesville or any of New Milford but can now be seen any day of the year here in Harrybrooke Park. Frank built a weekend estate off of the beaten path and today, we are still considered by some to be the "Hidden Gem" of New Milford.
The great poet Robert Burns lays claim to the poem and certainly Guy Lombardo made it popular. For those who don't know who those to men are, please leave this page and google. They are truly iconic individuals. Anyway, it's the song that is sung at every New Year's celebration. Seriously. Even if you don't know the lyrics, they're on the TV, the radio, they're everywhere. It's actually pretty funny because it's likely the most famous song that no one knows the lyrics to. People mumble through them because some are old Scottish words and people have no idea what they're saying or what it means.
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.
On old long syne my Jo,
On old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On old long syne.
When good people come and go in your life, it is worth it to take a moment of time, raise a glass and remember those that should never be forgotten. It's not necessarily about friends who have passed away by any means. What the meaning translates to is "Days Gone By."
Personally I can picture Mr. Harden toasting Mrs. Harden here in the museum with a glass of champagne. Celebrating the days gone by and the wonderful life they lived that landed them here in Harrybrooke Park. A gentle kiss and a sweet embrace followed and they would give thanks to the joy of their private estate and discuss how much they loved it here in the country.
So this year, let us reflect on the days gone by of not just 2017. Let us reflect on the good times enjoyed over the years here in Harrybrooke Park. The joggers, the photographers, the picnics over the years, the parties held on the grounds, the weddings, the quiet walks of contemplation ... and the pure joy that IS Harrybrooke Park.
I like to think that Mr. Harden, with his childhood spent in Ireland, would have had this blessing memorized and might say it to his guests:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
Blessing for a bountiful 2018.
Welcome and thank you!
Welcome to the new website for New Milford's "Hidden Gem." We are excited to launch an updated and revised site for everyone's benefit. The timing is wonderful as this becomes a Christmas present for all who use the park year-round. You will find many new features to this site and we thought we'd review that for you a bit so that you can check it out.
Welcome, and thank you!