Our History and a Vision for the Future:
Between 1966 and 1970, volunteers transformed a dump in the heart of Danbury into eighty forever wild acres embracing two limestone quarries and preserving four ecosystems: woods, field, wetlands and a stream. In 1966, Danbury's artists donated their work and Danbury citizens bought 125 pieces of art, thus generating $2400 to buy materials used by Danbury's Henry Abbott Technical School students to create a 35' x 75' field house seating 75.
The local Meserve Foundation funded the mapping out of our ecology trail through the wetlands. John Pawloski, director of the CT Mining Museum in Kent, documented the geology trail with help from Western Connecticut State University's biology department. People working at neighboring Starbucks pitched in last year to restore a meadow of 5+ acres for songbirds.
Henry Abbott Technical School teachers and students have made the Science Center handicapped- accessible, created individual storage spaces for student projects, installed task lighting, and tightened up the building for heating in winter. Costco donated lab tables for 20 compound microscopes donated by the University. The Women's Club of Danbury donated among other things a composting toilet for the increasing number of school and other community groups using this renovated building. Our specimen cases came from Yale. Our compound microscopes were donated by Western Connecticut State University. In a few short years, a passive nature center has been transformed into a nature preserve with well-marked, well-documented trails, and an indoor/outdoor science lab for public, private and home-schooled educational groups.
The Meserve Foundation again pitched in funding a video camera for Will Michael, the CT Naturalist, to use in documenting "Journey Through the Old Quarry" over the seasons. This hour video is being distributed to science teachers and community groups to share the ever-changing life of native plants and animals. We are now updating our website with photos of all the volunteers who made Old Quarry what it is today--on a budget of less than $1000 per year with only pro-bono staff and project volunteers.
We've rediscovered Kenneth Riley, Cowboy Artist of America, who designed our mascot owl and is also famous for his landscapes. We're looking for the many who've had a hand in creating what we enjoy today--those who donated and bought art, wielded hammers and saws, cleared debris--and uncovered our rock formations. Lastly, we are learning from our past, rediscovering and preserving 385 articles. Our first director, Virginia Welch, wrote on environmental issues in Danbury back in the late 1970's; issues still relevant to this day, and about the challenges we face in preserving nature in an urban setting.
Special thanks go to the many dedicated volunteers who have contributed to the
creation and reactivation of the Old Quarry Nature Center. Their efforts have
resulted in making this a living-learning center for all citizens of the community.
The Friends of Old Quarry Nature Center would also like to gratefully acknowledge
The Henry Abbott Technical School
for reconstruction and repairs to the Field House
The Meserve Foundation
for providing funding for the surveys and brochure production.
"By sharing ideas and pooling efforts we recreate this rare jewel of wild life and
open land in downtown Danbury - and recreate ourselves." - Virginia Welch