Our mission is to build a passion in our community for nature and the environment through education, experience and action.

10 Woodside Lane Westport, CT 06880   203-557-4400 Earthplace Preschool: 203-557-3638

Thanksgiving Holiday Hours:

  • Wednesday, November 22nd: 9am to 3pm (Preschool closed, excluding full-time students)
  • Thursday, November 23rd: Closed
  • Friday, November 24th: 9am to 2pm (Preschool closed) 

History

Earthplace has been based in Westport, Connecticut since our founding in 1958, and has grown to include many mission-related resources including a state-licensed preschool, a natural history museum, and Harbor Watch, our locally renowned water quality research program. Our sanctuary consists of 74 contiguous acres of open space that supports a variety of habitats and several miles of walking trails—including Wheels in the Woods IV a universal access trail suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. We are also home to the live Birds of Prey Exhibit and the indoor Animal Hall for public viewing. Earthplace works toward our mission every day by providing a diverse continuum of hands-on, nature-based learning experiences throughout childhood and young adulthood, as well as environmental programs and volunteer opportunities for adults.

2015      
  • January - Dr. Sarah Crosby named Harbor Watch Director replacing Dick Harris who founded the program and dedicated decades to our local waterways. 

2013  
  • October - Tony McDowell named Executive Director of Earthplace 
2007  
  • 22 acre Partrick Wetlands open space donated to Earthplace
2006  
  • Grand re-opening of Natureplace after renovations to modernize, create interactive and interpretative natural history information. 
 2003  
  •  Wheels In The Woods IV trail established
2002  
  • Name changed to Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center
1993  
  • Building expanded to 22,000 square feet
1988  
  • Protected lands expanded to 62 acres
1986  
  • Harbor Watch/River Watch established
1985  
  • Mary Eason Swett Wildlife Rehabilitation Center opened
  • Dr. John D. Horkel, Ph.D. becomes the new Executive Director
1974  
  • Edward T. Peach appointed as Executive Director
1973  
  • Name changed to The Nature Center for Environmental Activities
1970  
  • John Gardner named Director
1967  
  • Thomas Baker named Director
 1966  
  •  Nursery school established
  • John R. Preston named Director
1965  
  • Sculpture of mother bear and cubs donated by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington
 1962  
  •  Formation of the Women’s League
  • Instructional program agreement with Westport, Norwalk and Wilton school systems
1961  
  • Dedication of building
  • Nature dioramas built with backgrounds painted by master muralist Jerome P. Connolly, who created more than 125 diorama murals in 35 museums in the U.S., Canada and Taiwan, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the William Penn Museum in Harrisburg, the Oakes Museum in Grantham, PA, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the George C. Page Museum in Los Angeles, and the Vanderbilt Museum in New York.
1960  
  • Alan Mahl chosen as the organization’s first Director.
  • Programs originate in a barn at the corner of King’s Highway and Wilton Road.
  • Junior Staff program formed
  • Cornerstone laid in November
1959   
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for The Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, designed by the firm of Gibbons and Heidtmann
1958  
  • The first Board of Trustees is established and led by President Dr. Andreas Lazlo and Chairman John Ripley Forbes.
  • The first 10 acres of land donated to the organization by Mrs. Dudley Wadsworth.
  • The initial 53.75 acres of the sanctuary were either gifted or purchased by the institution between 1958 and early 1960s.
  • Founders: John Ripley Forbes, Dr. Andreas Laszlo, Mrs. Dudley Wadsworth, Miss Katherine Ordway, Henry Gund, Bern Dibner, James B. McMahon, Jr., Daniel M. McKeon, Mrs. Edward J. Churchill, Mrs. Barbara Gray Mills, Dr. Guy F. Robbins, Aaron Rabinowitz, Harvey L. Koizim, Mrs. John T. Curtis, Dr. George E. Ingham