Saving A 300-Year-Old Colonial Settlement Site In Connecticut
Waterfall at Sheep Farm in Connecticut.
Photo by Reggie Hall/The Conservation Fund
The town of Groton, Connecticut, has a long history dating to before its incorporation in 1705, and the 63-acre Sheep Farm property is part of that history. When the Groton Open Space Association (GOSA), which works to save historic and open space, needed to act to protect the Sheep Farm, they turned to us for help.
Through our Land Conservation Loan Program, we were able to step in quickly to help GOSA save this one-of-a-kind place. “Our organization faced a tight deadline on the Sheep Farm acquisition,” says Joan Smith, GOSA president. “Without timely cash, our real estate option on this property would have lapsed.”
The Sheep Farm includes remnants of agricultural and industrial operations, including an early 18th-century grist mill along Fort Hill Brook, as well as the historic Samuel Edgecomb House. Edgecomb’s son is said to have fended off British troops during the Revolutionary War by hurling 18-pound shots, with his fists, over the walls of Fort Griswold in Groton.
Today, the property’s mountain laurel forest, meadows and wetlands provide ideal habitat for a wide array of plant, bird, amphibian and other species. The site’s 10-foot waterfall on Fort Hill Brook — the highest waterfall in the town — forms a natural barrier to migrating fish, with the exception of the American eel, which can scale the rock wall. Fort Hill Brook flows onward from the farm to Mumford Cove, which feeds the Long Island Sound.
The Sheep Farm will be open to the public for some recreation and will serve as an outdoor classroom, bringing history, nature, and community together as it has for ages.