Putnam Memorial State Park
- State of Connecticut
- Putnam Park Road
- At entrance
- Trail Map
- Putnam Park
Putnam State Park, which borders the Plishner Preserve, was established in 1886 as a memorial to the Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, and was the very first state park in Connecticut. The original 102 acres were donated by Aaron Treadwell of Redding, Oliver Jennings of Fairfield, and Isaac N. Bartram of Sharon. The park. now encompasses 232 acres.
Not intending it ever to be a "pleasure park," its founders wished it to remain "strong, rugged, simple," like the men it commemorates. Here, some 2,500 to 3,000 bluecoat soldiers endured the rigors of the hard winter of 1779 with inadequate food and clothing and little pay. A 42-foot memorial obelisk inside the park gates, made of Redding limestone and Ridgefield granite, was erected in 1888.
The heroic statue of General Putnam at the entrance was completed by the renowned Redding sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington when she was 94 years old. Dedicated in 1969, it depicts Putnam's daring escape from British dragoons at Horse Neck (now a part of Greenwich). Putnam, surprised and outnumbered by British forces, rode his horse down 100 steps cut in the face of a steep cliff. The British dared not follow. The statue, completely restored during the Park's renovation, is now mounted on a new base, away from its original roadside site and closer to the Pavilion-Visitors' Center.
Extensive renovations to the historic park were approved by the State in 2004 and $2. 5 million in funding authorized by the State Bond Commission. These renovations include the conversion of the 1893 Pavilion, also the first building in the state erected specifically for a state park, into a year-round visitors' facility with exhibition space, new restrooms and a second-floor office.
Reconfiguration of entrance ways and parking areas in the rehabilitated Park are also designed to make this historic archeological site more accessible and attractive to visitors. The unpaved roadways within Putnam Park make for an easy, leisurely walk past the firebacks and other vestiges of the Revolutionary War encampment. ❧