LYNN VILLENCY COHEN
North Stamford’s triangle of history
Something as simple as a statue or fountain can symbolically and proudly herald the enhanced status and growing importance of an area in North Stamford that will, for decades to come, serve as the historic epicenter of Stamford. This triangular area, owned and maintained by the city, defined by the intersection of High Ridge and Scofieldtown Roads, will be surrounded by three city history “heavyweights” — the Stamford Historical Society, the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and the addition of the Hoyt-Barnum Home — all of which hold the shiny keys to the city’s historical narrative.
Residents of North Stamford, Pound Ridge, Bedford, as well as New Canaan and Ridgefield pass by this intersection, a grassy triangle, sometimes daily, en route to the Merritt Parkway or downtown. During the six months of winter, one discerns three delineated circles of plantings that in the spring bring clusters of luxuriant daffodils to this triangular area.
With the approaching 375th birthday of the city there will undoubtedly be dedications and celebrations such as exhibits, and neighborhood tours. With the imminent move of the Hoyt-Barnum, the oldest city structure dating to 1699, to the adjacent lot next to the Martha Hoyt School, an historical marker such as a significant statue, sculpture or fountain can beautify, enhance and signify our civic pride. Currently devoid of a significant focal point to focus the eye, other than these three circles of plantings; what better location than this grassy area for a little beautification and trumpeting of North Stamford symbolic pride!
Just what would be an appropriate statue to erect at this location? Would it be a commissioned sculpture by a living and recognized artist or by a deceased celebrated artist with significant Stamford ties; or would a uniquely designed fountain surrounded by specimen plantings be appropriate here?
Undoubtedly, a selection and placement process of this kind would involve local arts professionals and input from municipal, neighborhood, and residents; as well as city engineers, commissions and boards for approval. Additionally, there are important infrastructure considerations with a water pipe system on this triangle. Given the rich abundance of nearby institutions such as the three aforementioned, along with the Bartlett Arboretum and the North Stamford Association, there should be no shortage of ideas. And while few changes are ever accomplished with relative ease, especially in a city with disparate and diverse viewpoints, an appropriately chosen sculpture or fountain would serve to beautify and edify our historic gateway to North Stamford.
Consider two famed sculptors with deep Stamford ties — Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) and Reuben Nakian, (1897-1986); both artists are historic figures whose studios and homes in the North Stamford area would make either of them the natural pick. They were prolific artists with broad output in mediums of sculpture, painting, drawing and print making. Imagine a small sculpted piece by Nakian placed appropriately in this grassy area, providing an aesthetically pleasing and exciting public focal point to the surrounding area of the museum, historical society and historic home. Or perhaps a site specific commissioned piece from a working Stamford artist or an appropriately sized fountain — certainly strong possibilities to ponder.
Against the backdrop of a frenetic building boom of the downtown, North Stamford is experiencing its own changes with the significant addition of the Hoyt-Barnum home. Let us celebrate this change with artistic exuberance and historic flair — it is precisely the right time for North Stamford to assert itself!
Lynn Villency Cohen lives in Stamford.
This Opinion piece appeared on March 4, 2016 in The Advocate