Land Conservation Mural
The city of Keene enjoys an impressive wealth of conserved public land. The city’s conserved spaces are due, largely, to the efforts of a few key residents.
Caroline Haskell Ingersoll (1827-1893) grew up in a wealthy family in Keene and became an accomplished musician. In 1887, she learned a 17 acre pine grove located at the comer of Arch Street and Park Avenue in West Keene was about to be cut down for lumber. She led a local effort that saved the land, raising $1,300 from nearly 100 women in the community. She named the land Ladies’ Wildwood Park.
George Alexander Wheelock (1816-1906), Keene lawyer, became a naturalist–studying plants, animals, and geology–, a poet, and a landscape archivist. In 1866 he donated 25 acres of land at the old West Keene fairground (now named Wheelock Park). In 1889, he gave the 12 acres of the Children’s Wood and 17 acres in West Keene. In 1897, he donated Robin Hood Park with its 83 acres of woodland. He was Keene’s first park commissioner when that post was created in in 1887.
Mary Boyd Dinsmoor (1839-1928). In 1886, Mary Dinsmoor donated 13 acres along Maple Avenue for public use. Now called “Dinsmoor Woods,” it lies along both sides of Maple avenue, and now consists of eighteen acres of heavily wooded land.
Samuel Wadsworth (1846-1931). Born in Roxbury NH in 1846, Wadsworth served for many years as a surveyor and City Engineer of Keene. As a surveyor, he drew detailed sketches of every street and public way for the purpose of assigning house numbers to assist postmen in the mail carrier service. His maps show the growth of conserved land over time.
Horatio Colony The story of the Horatio Colony Nature Preserve began in 1892 when Faulkner & Colony mill owner, Horatio Colony I, bought the Japhet Parker farm which was 132 acres of abandoned sheep pasture atop West Hill in Keene. The Colony family soon built Tip-Top House on top of the north slope – a summer cabin where they spent many a Sunday afternoons enjoying the solitude and expansive view of Keene. Horatio I enjoyed the land so much that he added to it. Between 1892 and 1925 he purchased nine more lots, piecing together what today comprises the nature preserve. His grandson, Horatio Colony II, inherited the West Hill holding. Having a great respect for New England woods and wildlife, he allowed the forest to regenerate naturally. His desire to save this unique ecological resource led him to set aside his land as a wildlife sanctuary and nature study, to be used for education and research. The nature preserve is now 645 acres, with a 5 mile trail complex that is open to the public.
In Our Collections
Call 603.352.1895 to make an appointment
The Archives and Wright Reading Room at the Historical Society of Cheshire County have publications on the history of Keene and its parks, historic photographs, and historic maps. Call ahead to have these materials ready for your visit.
- Ladies Wildwood Park- Park Ave, Keene
- Wheelock Park- Park Ave, Keene
- Robinhood Park- Robinhood Lane, Keene
- Dinsmoor Woods- Oriole Ave, Keene
- Horatio Colony Nature Preserve- Daniels Hill Road, Keene