By Shirley Murtha
In addition to providing Granby with 225.59 acres of preserved open space, the 1975 and 1982 donations of the Stanley K. Dimock properties introduced the Granby Land Trust to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and set the stage for a long term beneficial relationship between the two organizations. Donated by Dimock's wife Bertha as a living memorial to her husband's love of nature, the property is located on Legeyt Road at the Granby/Barkhamsted town line. It is comprised of 147.8 acres in Barkhamsted and 77.7 acres in West Granby. Permitted activities include hiking, cross country skiing, bird watching and other nature studies. Of great importance, the property preserves the integrity of a significant wildlife corridor of contiguous open space parcels.
Almost entirely forested, with the exception of the Hoyt Hayes Swamp, there are currently no official trails in the preserve, which is located within the West Branch Salmon Brook sub-watershed of the Farmington River basin. Access to the interior can be gained on the east side of Legeyt Road by way of Fox Road, a long-ago discontinued town road that passes through the Dimock Preserve into Enders State Forest and winds its way to Route 20 in West Granby.
Stanley Dimock's desire to preserve open space harkened back to his youth, taking its cue from his father, an industrial pioneer whose silk manufacturing business eventually became the Corticelli Silk Company. Ira Dimock had purchased the Vanderbilt estate in Hartford's West Hill neighborhood in 1889. When Mount Saint Joseph Academy was built next door in 1905, Ira planted a row of poplar trees along the north edge of his property and stipulated in his will that the land on which they stood could never be sold. Ira and Stanley's mother both died in 1917, and in keeping with their wishes, in 1925 Stanley created the funded trust that to this day controls the two-foot-wide wooded area between the West Hill Historic District and the academy.
Stanley and his wife Bertha were part of the well-to-do West End populace who had the time and finances to acquire a second home to enjoy during the summer season. As did many of their peers, the Dimocks found Granby to be the perfect spot, and purchased a large tract of land on Legeyt Road. At the time, it also contained acreage in what is now Enders State Forest. Stanley's primary interest in the land at that time was for hunting, although later in life he developed a distaste for killing animals. From then on, he enjoyed the property simply for its beauty and as a safe haven for wildlife.
Bertha had planned to eventually donate the property to the Girl Scouts, but by the time Stanley died, she had become disillusioned with the organization. A Baptist church in Hartford also expressed interest, but Bertha had found a better solution.
Put Brown, who was instrumental in orchestrating the properties transfer, can't remember the specifics, but either Bertha's lawyer put her in touch with the Granby Land Trust, or possibly some of her West End friends knew about the emerging organization. At any rate, Bertha was totally in favor of having the land preserved from development forever, and in 1975, the first parcel of property was donated to the Land Trust; the second and third parcels followed in 1982.
To her credit, Bertha realized that to make the donation of land was one thing; to be certain that it would be maintained would require an endowment for stewardship, so she gave the Land Trust $75,000 for that purpose. Walter Rugland and Put Brown approached the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to see how best to manage this gift. After much discussion, the foundation responded by setting up the first ever fund solely for the use of a sister charity. This was quite a leap of faith on its part because the Land Trust was a fledgling organization, but in time, it proved to be a very successful partnership.
Knowledge of this process motivated other donors. Years later, Mary Edwards created a similar stewardship endowment for her Mountain Road property in North Granby.
The significance of Bertha Dimock's gift is two-fold: she gave the Land Trust a beautiful parcel that adjoins other preserved lands, and she spurred the creation of a valuable relationship between the Granby Land Trust and the Hartford Foundation that continues to this day.
To see a Granby Land Trust property map, visit www.GranbyLandTrust.org