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


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.

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

  • October - Tony McDowell named Executive Director of Earthplace 
  • 22 acre Partrick Wetlands open space donated to Earthplace
  • Grand re-opening of Natureplace after renovations to modernize, create interactive and interpretative natural history information. 
  •  Wheels In The Woods IV trail established
  • Name changed to Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center
  • Building expanded to 22,000 square feet
  • Protected lands expanded to 62 acres
  • Harbor Watch/River Watch established
  • Mary Eason Swett Wildlife Rehabilitation Center opened
  • Dr. John D. Horkel, Ph.D. becomes the new Executive Director
  • Edward T. Peach appointed as Executive Director
  • Name changed to The Nature Center for Environmental Activities
  • John Gardner named Director
  • Thomas Baker named Director
  •  Nursery school established
  • John R. Preston named Director
  • Sculpture of mother bear and cubs donated by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington
  •  Formation of the Women’s League
  • Instructional program agreement with Westport, Norwalk and Wilton school systems
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for The Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, designed by the firm of Gibbons and Heidtmann
  • 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