WILTON, Conn. - Three newly renovated buildings and access to the artist-in-residence studio combined with a blue sky brought hundreds out this weekend to visit Weir Farm National Historic Site, which spans across Wilton and Ridgefield.
The park threw open the doors to three newly renovated buildings -- the Weir House, Weir Studio and Young Studio -- all of which had been closed to the public since the 60-acre property became a national park in 1990.
Volunteers and park rangers said how excited they were to see the people come through the park Saturday and Sunday for the grand opening weekend.
Seeing the completed interior of the buildings was the main reason Steffani Kruzan brought her family back to Weir Farm this weekend. “We came here before with my daughter when she was working on her Junior Ranger badge for Girl Scouts,” Kruzan said.
She said they had wanted to go into the buildings in the past but were told that they had never been open to the public. When Kruzan found out that they would be opening this weekend, they wanted to come back. “And we like walking around the property.”
Many visitors said the grand opening, and perfect weather, was the excuse they needed to come to the national historic site for the first time.
“I’ve always heard about Weir Farm,” said Norwalk resident Barbara Cartsounis. But she had never made it up to the park despite how close she is. “When I saw the post card [about the grand opening] I decided what better time and reason to come.”
For Darien residents Marie and Ralph Akhavi, the grand opening event seemed like a great reason to come this weekend as the looked for a holiday weekend activity.
“I didn’t know that much about Weir,” Marie said. Despite that, and despite not knowing there was a national park in the area, the pair said they enjoyed making the visit and learning about the history of the buildings. “I’m glad we picked here.”
Visitors were able to wander about the park, get tours of the Weir House and walk inside the studios used by Impressionist painter Julian Alden Weir and his-son-in-law sculptor Mahroni Young.
Each building has been meticulously renovated and restored.
The park had a steady flow of visitors over the weekend, but not an overwhelming number, said park Superintendent Linda Cook. “People come in groups,” she said. “Many just come and spend the afternoon.”
One of the shuttle drivers that brought people back and forth from the offsite parking lot at Ridgefield’s Branchville Elementary School, said he had not previously heard of the park and said he plans on coming back with his family for a better look around.
“A lot of people I spoke to have been here before and they speak very highly of the park,” said Steve Lewis of Bridgeport.
The park's grounds are open and free to the public year round. The buildings will be open Thursdays through Sundays, with four free tours per day, until the end of the season. For more information on the tours and directions, visit the park's website.