Mission

The mission of Earthplace is to build a passion in our community for nature and the environment through education, experience and action. Founded in 1958 and accredited by The American Association of Museums, Earthplace maintains a 62 acre wildlife sanctuary with trails, exhibits an interactive natural history museum with wildlife dioramas, houses live wildlife for public viewing and hosts many public nature programs and events.  Other activities include a state-licensed preschool and summer camp, and the Harbor Watch water quality testing program. 

Earthplace is located at 10 Woodside Lane, Westport, CT, and is open Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM, Saturday, 9AM to 4 PM and Sunday 1 to 4 PM.  The grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk.  Admission to the grounds is free.

Earthplace is a private non-profit organization exempt from taxation under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Earthplace is an independent organization, and receives no federal or state funding and only limited local funds.  Earthplace relies on the generosity of its members and friends for the majority of its financial support.  Earthplace also receives donations from grants and foundations, as well raises money through special fundraising events.  We invite you to join our efforts by becoming a member, by volunteering your time or by donating money to support our efforts.

History

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
1959  
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for The Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, designed by the firm of Gibbons and Heidtmann
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
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.
1962  
  • Formation of the Women’s League
  • Instructional program agreement with Westport, Norwalk and Wilton school systems
1965  
  • Sculpture of mother bear and cubs donated by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington
1966  
  • Nursery school established
  • John R. Preston named Director
1967  
  • Thomas Baker named Director
1970  
  • John Gardner named Director
1973  
  • Name changed to The Nature Center for Environmental Activities
1974  
  • Edward T. Peach appointed as Executive Director
1985  
  • Mary Eason Swett Wildlife Rehabilitation Center opened
  • Dr. John D. Horkel, Ph.D. becomes the new Executive Director
1986  
  • Harbor Watch/River Watch established
1988  
  • Protected lands expanded to 62 acres
1993  
  • Building expanded to 22,000 square feet
2002  
  • Name changed to Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center
2003  
  • Wheels In The Woods IV trail established
2006  
  • Grand re-opening of Natureplace
2007  
  • 22 acre Partrick Wetlands open space donated to Earthplace