Parks, Memorials and Monuments
Veteran’s Park, located on Atlantic Street, is home to many of Stamford’s memorials including the Abraham Lincoln Statue.
St. John’s Park at the intersection of Tresser Blvd. and Main Street is the home of the Stamford Monument, which lists the names of Stamford residents who served in the Union army during the Civil War, and those who fought in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War and WWI.
Jackie Robinson Park of Fame, at Jackie Robinson Way and West Main Street houses the Jackie Robinson Statue built to honor the famous African-American baseball player, who lived in Stamford. The statue’s base says “Courage, Confidence and Perseverance”.
Cove Island Park at Cove Road and Weed Avenue is where you can find the September 11th Memorial, Stamford’s tribute to the people from our city who died on September 11, 2001 during the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The park is also home to a playground, town beach, Terry Conners Ice Skating Rink and SoundWaters.
Another public beach is at Cummings Park, located on Shippan Avenue. Cummings Park is named after a Stamford Mayor, Homer Cummings, but it was originally called Halloween Park because the vote to buy the property was held on Halloween Eve. The city’s annual 4th of July fireworks display is held at Cummings Park. This picture was taken at Cummings beach in the 1930’s.
Chestnut Hill Park covers six acres in North Stamford and is used by many people who live in that neighborhood. It has a picnic area, a baseball field and a large playground.
Scalzi Park, located at Bridge Street and Washington Boulevard, was originally a racetrack. It was named after John Scalzi, Jr. who lived in Stamford. Mr. Scalzi played baseball for the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers. These are just a few of Stamford’s more than 50 parks.
Stamford’s first public school was built in 1671, near the present-day Old Town Hall. It was one room, either ten or twelve feet square. Before the school was built, children were taught by their mothers or at a “Dame school”, where one woman would teach a number of neighborhood children in her home. In 1685 the town voted to install a stone chimney and whatever else was needed to heat Stamford’s one room school. Five years later, the school was felt to be too small, and the building was sold.
The original Roxbury School was a one room schoolhouse built in the early 1800s at the intersection of Roxbury, Stillwater and Long Ridge Roads. This Roxbury School had one teacher and students from first through eighth grade. It was the size of a two-car garage. This building is now a real estate office. (As of 2004 eight one room schools in the northern part of Stamford survived, but none still looked like a school).
The grandniece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a famous author who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which shows how terrible slavery was, purchased the school in 1896. It closed in 1911.
Rippowam, on High Ridge Road has gone through many changes. It used to be a Stamford high school. After the high school closed, the Rippowam building was the home of the Rippowam Magnet Middle School. In 2000, a new program called AIT (the Academy of Information Technology), a regional technology-focused high school, moved in to share the building with the magnet middle school. After the magnet school moved to Scofieldtown Road, a new Rippowam Middle School was started. Trailblazers Academy is also located in the Rippowam building. In 2007, AIT (now AITE, Academy of Information Technology and Engineering) moved into its own new building behind the original Rippowam building.
The current headquarters of the Stamford Historical Society on High Ridge
Road used to be the Willard School. It was later named Martha Hoyt School after an outstanding principal. Julia A. Stark Elementary school was also named after an excellent principal.
The Stamford campus of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) opened on Scofieldtown Road in 1951. The branch was founded to provide education for veterans who were returning home after fighting in the Korean War. In 1998, UCONN moved to a location in downtown Stamford which was the former home of Bloomingdales Department Store.
opened on Main Street in the early 1800s, and was a popular Stamford gathering place. Located half way between New York and New Haven, it was the United States Postal Service site for the exchange of horses and the handling of passengers and mail. Later, this hotel was called The Stamford House. The basement of the Stamford House contained a cobbler shop (shoe shop), a barber shop, a tailor and a hat shop. Buffalo Bill Cody (a famous actor in Wild West shows), and P.T. Barnum (co-founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) stayed there. Many other famous people were rumored to have stayed at the Stamford House, including several Presidents.
The Union House Hotel, built in 1844, was also located on Main Street. Later names included Grand Union Hotel and Carlton Hotel.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there was a well-known resort hotel in Shippan. It was originally called the Ocean House Hotel. Later, its name was changed to The Shippan Point Hotel. By 1890 it had a pavilion, bath houses, a casino and a carousel.
In 1896 Stamford Hospital opened its doors in a three-story Victorian mansion at Noroton Hill. In 1913 a smaller version of the current Stamford Hospital was built on West Broad Street, where the hospital is still located today. The founder of Stamford Hospital was Judge John Clasen. The hospital has continued to grow through the years. It now includes the Tandet Center (a nursing home) and the Bennett Cancer Center at the West Broad Street site, and the Tully Center on Strawberry Hill Avenue, which has outpatient facilities and doctors’ offices.
In 1942 St. Joseph’s Hospital, Stamford’s second hospital, opened on Strawberry Hill Avenue. That building now houses the Tully Center, which is a part of Stamford Hospital.
Stamford Government Buildings
After the Civil War, some people in Stamford wanted to build a large town hall. Even though other residents didn’t like the idea, a three-story town hall was constructed, which opened in 1871. The first floor had businesses, the second government offices and the third space for meetings and special events. The building served as a community center as well as the home of the government. In February 1904, a gas jet set off a fire that burned the building to a shell in two hours.
The second Old Town Hall, located on Atlantic Street, opened in 1906. The city government operated from this building until 1963. In 2007 a project was begun to renovate this old town hall and turn it into an office building.
In 1986 Stamford’s government offices moved into the building at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Tresser Street now called the Stamford Government Center. The site was originally built by the company G.T.E. for its own use, and was sold to the city. Before the city bought the G.T.E. building, the former Rippowam High School building on High Ridge Road was also considered as a location for the government center.
Ridgeway Shopping Center on Summer Street opened in 1947. This center houses a Stop & Shop Supermarket; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Marshall’s; Old Navy; Staples, and other popular stores.
Chimney Corners Shopping Center on Long Ridge Road, near exit 34 of the Merritt Parkway, got its name from a restaurant that used to exist at that location.
Bloomingdale’s department store opened in 1954 on Broad Street and Washington Boulevard. It closed in 1990. The Bloomingdale’s site was renovated and turned into the Stamford branch of the University of Connecticut (UCONN). UCONN moved to this building from its home on Scofieldtown Road in North Stamford in 1998. (UCONN’s old location is now the home of Scofield Magnet Middle School).
United House Wrecking, located on Hope Street, also began operations in 1954. The business started when the Lodato family salvaged doors, mantles stained glass and other interesting items from houses that were torn down to make room for I-95. Their store has expanded since the 1950s, and they now sell furniture and decorative items from all over the world. But you can still go to this large store to find unusual architectural items and outdoor sculptures.
Stamford Town Center, Stamford’s mall, was first built in 1982 by F.D. Rich Company. In 1982, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue were two of the three major stores in the mall. The third was originally J.C. Penney’s, which was replaced by Filene’s in 1996. Filene’s closed in 2005. In 2007 a major renovation of the mall converted the former Penney’s/Filene’s area into a large
Barnes and Noble bookstore and an H&M clothing store. An addition was also built on the south side which houses several restaurants and makes the mall more open to pedestrians. In 1991, a movie called Scenes From a Mall, was filmed at the Stamford Town Center. Woody Allen and Bette Midler starred in this film.
The site of the Town Center’s garage was originally called Stage Street. Stagecoach drivers stopped there to exchange their tired horses for fresh ones.
Frank Martin & Sons was a boy’s and men’s clothing store, located where the Black Bear Restaurant now stands on Main Street. There is a plaque on the building saying that it is listed the National Register of Historic Places.
Caldor department store used to be in the building on Broad Street that is now the home of the Burlington Coat Factory. It was started by Carl and Dorothy Bennett in 1951. The name of the store was made up of their first names Cal (for Carl) and Dor (for Dorothy). The Bennetts later contributed money for the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital.
In 2004, the shopping landscape of downtown Stamford changed with the opening of two major chain stores on Broad Street, Target and Burlington Coat Factory. Burlington Coat Factory took over the building next to The Ferguson Library that housed Caldor until 1999.
Places that are fun to visit
The Hoyt-Barnum farmhouse built in 1699 is the oldest house still standing in Stamford. The farmhouse is located at 713 Bedford Street. This was the Stamford Historical Society’s headquarters until 1984. The Historical Society still owns the Hoyt-Barnum house.
The Stamford Museum and Nature Center was founded in 1936 as a natural history museum and educational center. In 1955 it moved to the former Henri Bendel estate on High Ridge Road. It now includes a farm, nature center and playground in addition to the museum.
The Fairfield County Astronomical Society runs the Stamford Observatory, at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. You can visit the Observatory and its 22” telescope on Friday evenings. Planetarium presentations are also held once a month on Sundays.
The Bartlett Arboretum was created in the early 1900s by Francis A. Bartlett, who devoted his life to the care of trees. In 1913, Mr. Bartlett bought an abandoned farm in North Stamford for scientific
experimentation on trees, and to train his tree care workers. In 1965 the property was sold to the state of Connecticut. The Arboretum offers special programs, concerts, a weekly farmers market in the summer, and a nature trail for hiking.
The former Sanford-Holly house in Cove Island Park became the SoundWaters Coastal Education Center in 1999. At the center you can visit an aquarium, see exhibits and attend special environmental programs.
In 1972, the city of Stamford acquired the remains of Fort Stamford at 900 Westover Road and an abandoned formal garden that had belonged to Marcus Goodbody, a one-time senior partner in a Wall Street firm. Members of the Stamford and Glenbrook garden clubs began a restoration of the garden that took three decades. In 2006, the Italian-style garden was renamed the Goodbody Garden at Fort Stamford.
You can call to make an appointment to see a small, little-known museum of Ukrainian art on Glenbrook Road, which is located in a historic building that was once a mansion known as “Spring Hill”. Built in 1861, the house became a girls’ boarding school called Glen Eden in 1919.
At the corner of Washington Boulevard and North State Street, outside the UBS headquarters, you can walk into a 50-foot stained-glass cone. The cone was made by Brian Clarke, an artist from England, at a cost of one million dollars. Completed in 1999, it was built to meet the Stamford Urban Redevelopment Commission’s requirement that one percent of the money spent on urban redevelopment be spent on public art. The artist wondered what it would be like to stand inside a gem. Visit the cone on a sunny day and see for yourself.
The office and residential Complex Canterbury Green was built on Broad
Street in 1987. The peaks on the roofline of the buildings mimic the roofline of the much older gothic St. John’s Church, which is Canterbury Green’s neighbor.
In 1914 the Stamford Theater was built on Atlantic Street to encourage pre-Broadway tryouts of new plays. Well-known Broadway playwrights and producers previewed their works there. In the 1930s the theater became a movie theater and in the 1980s the building became the home of the foundation for the new Stamford Center for the Arts.
The Palace Theater on Atlantic Street, has always featured one-night stage acts by famous performers. It is also the home to the Stamford Symphony Orchestra which gives concerts at The Palace. Connecticut Ballet Theater’s annual holiday season production of the Nutcracker ballet was held at the Palace Theater until 2007.
The old Stamford Theater was purchased in the late 1970s by Frank D. Rich, Jr., Pitney Bowes and Champion International. Their plan was to build a
center for music, theater, opera and the visual arts at the site on Atlantic Street. Construction was supposed to begin in 1985, but there were delays and changes in the plan. Finally, in 1989, construction began on the theater now called The Rich Forum (after Frank D. Rich, Jr.). It opened in 1992.
In 1992, Curtain Call, which began in 1990, moved to the Sterling Farms Complex on Newfield Avenue. Curtain Call offers community theater, Shakespeare productions, acting workshops and more. The Sterling Farms site is also the home of one of Stamford’s municipal golf courses, tennis courts and a restaurant.
The Italian Center opened in 1918 in a Victorian house on South Street. It was created to serve the growing population of Italian immigrants. In 1969, the center bought the 28-acre H.D. Catty Estate on Newfield Avenue. On Columbus Day in 1970, President Richard Nixon flew into Stamford in a helicopter to dedicate the Italian Center of Stamford
The YMCA, on Washington Blvd., has been a landmark in downtown Stamford since 1868. It provided programs and recreational facilities including a large indoor pool as well as low cost rental housing for the community. In October 2007 the YMCA closed. It reopened in April 2010 and the name was changed to The Stamford Family YMCA.
The Boys and Girls Club of Stamford started in 1927. Its current building was constructed in 1991, and a gym was added in 1994. The Boys and Girls Club provides educational and recreational programs to boys and girls aged 6-18. They run many after school programs and a summer camp.
The Yerwood Center is named for Dr. Joyce Yerwood, a black physician and community leader. In 1934 she gathered together African-American young adults to form a chorus. The group grew to become “The Negro Little Theater”, and they performed in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. In the 1940s they got their first permanent home on Main Street, called the Stamford Negro Community Center. This center had a lounge, an office, a snack bar and a barn for dances. In 1950 the chorus changed its name to the Yerwood Chorus, and the community center became West Main StreetCommunity Center. In 1975 the community center moved to the present location, formerly the Steven’s school, and became The Yerwood Center.
In 1916, a social meeting place for Jews was founded in Stamford. Called The Hebrew Institute, it was in existence until 1927. After it closed, in 1930, the Stamford Jewish Community Center opened in a building on Prospect Street. In 1982, it moved to a new building on Newfield Avenue. The JCC serves Stamford’s Jewish community and others with programs, classes and special events for people of all ages. The JCC operates a summer camp, nursery school, child care center, senior center, health club, swimming pool and more. The JCC building also houses the office of the Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien United Jewish Federation (UJF), an umbrella organization for many charities. A small library operated by The Jewish Historical Society of Lower Fairfield County is housed in the JCC building.