Survey To Shed Light on Sperry Park
Sophia McDermott, a senior at Amity Regional High School, recently published a survey to raise awareness and better understand the use of Sperry Park. The survey is done in partnership with UConn’s Natural Resource Conservation Academy and the Woodbridge’s Sperry Park Committee. “I developed this short, anonymous survey to better understand awareness and recent use of Sperry Park among Woodbridge, Orange, and Bethany residents,” she wrote. “Additionally, the survey intends to educate participants on the history of Sperry Park, and attempts to find ways to honor that history.” A link to the survey is available on the Sperry Park website, https://sperrypark.org/ or at https://sqr.co/sperrypark/ or take a picture of this QR code:
The four-acre parcel was gifted to the Town of Woodbridge in 1907 by the heirs of Enoch and Mary Atlanta Sperry who raised their family here in the mid-1800s. Known as ‘the Sperry Home Lot’ this parcel contains the foundation of the circa-1701 Sperry home, as well as remnants of the mill works the family operated for four generations on the banks of the Sargent River at Sperry Falls.
Today the property is overseen by the Sperry Park Committee, appointed by the Woodbridge Board of Selectmen. Future projects under consideration include a major clean-up and a comprehensive presentation of Sperry Park-related history, wrote committee member Sheila McCreven in an email. “We’re looking forward to a presentation of her findings that the committee will receive sometime in March,” McCreven wrote. “We understand that Sophia’s project with the Conservation Ambassador Program at the Natural Resource and Conservation Academy at UConn (https://nrca.uconn.edu/cap/) is oriented toward land use, so we were so pleased that the inclusion of the history of the park was possible in her survey.”
The committee is hoping to use the data she presents to help determine next steps, perhaps even a collaboration with the Witness Stone Project, a program that shines the light on slavery in local communities. Project participants provide archival research, curricula and public programming to help students discover the local history of slavery. The work culminates with placement of “Witness Stone Memorials,” that honor enslaved individuals where they lived.
Even though an enslaved person was mentioned in the 1781 record, there is no documentation yet that they actually lived where the park is today. “Sperry family members owned many, many acres of land in this area, going back in the New Haven land records to the 1680s,” McCreven wrote. “So, there is much research to be done before we can say for sure where a Witness Stone might potentially be placed.”