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 blogs are written by our park Executive Director, Billy Buckbee. Some call him Mo but he's the guy with the beard you see around the park.