The Future of Tod's Point



Last year saw the completion of the restoration of historic Innis Arden Cottage and the culmination of the first and most ambitious phase of the Greenwich Point Gateway Project. It was launched nearly a decade ago by the Greenwich Point Conservancy under the inspiring leadership of Chris Franco, who grew up in Riverside and recalls many happy days as a youth exploring what was then known as Tod’s Point. 

The cottage had been allowed to deteriorate and was in derelict condition. Restoring it to its original form, with attention to authentic accuracy, was a daunting undertaking. Many elements were missing, including a front porch and many of its windows with their distinctive diamond- shaped panes. In order to recreate the original architectural details, Franco searched for historical photos and documents from sources as far afield as the George Eastman House in Rochester and a rare bookshop in Santa Fe. In the process he unearthed previously unknown history of the Cottage, adding to its already fascinating legacy.

The success of the restoration project was due to its many volunteers and to the generous donors who have contributed $1.5 million to the endeavor. Livvy and Doug Floren led the list of major supporters with their leadership contribution to create the Floren Family Environmental Center at the south end of the cottage; and the Bruce Museum and the Shellfish Commission contributed substantial funds for the Seaside Center to be outfitted and incorporated into the Floren Center, assuring the cottage’s use for science and environmental education.  

The Friends of Greenwich Point provided funds for landscaping at the cottage, and a Greenwich garden club will make a significant gift for the planting of sea grass, flowers, shrubs and bushes for the proposed Gateway gardens. Because the cottage is town property, the support of the Board of Selectmen and RTM has been critical, while the staff of Parks and Recreation gave important on-site help. The restoration of Innis Arden Cottage stands as solid evidence that public/private partnerships can accomplish what neither could do alone. 

We now look forward to Phase Two of the Greenwich Point Gateway Project designed to complete an entrance that will do justice to our wonderful wooded seaside park, a jewel that is our town’s most enviable natural asset enjoyed year-round by thousands.

J. Kennedy Tod’s original 125 year-old livestock barn will be restored and completely remodeled to become a welcome center. At one end will be men’s and women’s changing rooms, restrooms and a lending library. At the other end will be an updated luncheon stand and lifeguard facilities. Separating them will be an open arcade and a new indoor/outdoor terrace that will be ideal for casual luncheons and refreshments.

When Hurricane Sandy came along she “reopened” this area, washing away layers of material tacked on over the years. Located right up against the historic old barn is a homely brick restroom and utility building that will be removed, opening up a landscaped vista between Innis Arden Cottage and the barn.

Commented Chris Franco, “As summer approaches, a visit to the Point provides an uplifting feeling of rebirth and nature renewing itself following the damage from Hurricane Sandy. We have much to be thankful for, but there is still much work to do. The Gateway to Greenwich Point will not be complete until the Old Barn has been restored to its former beauty and becomes a useful and well-loved resource for the community.”

The cost of renovating the Old Barn and completing the connecting landscaping is expected to be approximately $750,000. To date, about $600,000 has been raised, and the Conservancy expects to raise the additional funds through its annual “Beach Ball”, to be held on July 13. Thanks to a generous leadership gift from Chuck and Deborah Royce, Tod’s renovated livestock barn will be named the “Sue H. Baker Pavilion,” in recognition of Sue’s longtime dedication to Greenwich Point, as a resident, an oceanography teacher in the Greenwich school system and a cofounder of the conservancy.

After this, what? Well, Chris Franco has his eye on other buildings of similar vintage that were part of Tod’s great estate, like the lovely chimes tower and the boathouse on Eagle Pond.

But, he admits, first things first.

For tickets to the Beach Ball and to make donations to the Greenwich Point Conservancy, go to greenwichpoint.org.

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