Meet Mary Sargent

We are delighted to bring you the first edition of The Legacy Society Newsletter.

The Legacy Giving Society recognizes and thanks donors during their lifetimes for including Hill-Stead in their estate plans. Since 1998, The Legacy Society members have helped support and sustain our beloved cultural hub and the larger community it serves far into the future.

Meet Mary Sargent: The Inspiring Founder of Hill-Stead’s Legacy Society

Mary Sargent and Executive Director, Dr. Anna Swinbourne touring Hill-Stead’s newly renovated spaces

Hill-Stead has a long history of fearless females, beginning with its founder and architect, Theodate Pope Riddle. Since opening its doors, a series of inspiring individuals, many of whom have been women, have worked tirelessly to keep Theodate’s dream alive. This merry crew has linked hands across generations to serve the public, bettering the lives of others through our beloved cultural hub.

During International Women’s History Month, it is fitting to recognize former Board President and Hill-Stead champion Mary Tennant Sargent. The Legacy Society founder is passionate and proud of her work to support and sustain Hill-Stead.

For more than three decades, Mrs. Sargent has devoted herself to the betterment of the treasured institution that she describes as a hidden gem. “I love everything about Hill-Stead, from its storied history to its extraordinary setting,” says Mrs. Sargent.

The longtime resident of West Hartford has been actively involved in garden clubs for many years. She helped with the 1986 restoration of Hill-Stead’s Sunken Garden, designed by Beatrix Farrand (America’s first female landscape architect). It was then that Mrs. Sargent became smitten with both the museum and its glorious grounds. She went on to serve as President of the Board of Governors for four years from 1991-1995, the longest tenure to date.

Mary and Joseph Sargent at the 2005 Hill-Stead Gala Benefit

Mrs. Sargent attended Smith College and met her husband, Joseph Denny Sargent, at the Farmington Polo Club when she was just 17 years old. The pair would marry when she was 19 and enjoy 57 years of wedded bliss, splitting time between Connecticut and Vermont.

Along with another couple, the two helped found the Killington ski area. This once-little-known peak grew into one of our country’s largest winter sports resorts. Many treasured moments were spent outdoors with their four children on the slopes at Killington and summer wilderness trips filled with fishing and backcountry hiking, and family time at Trail Creek and Red Rock Ranch, Wyoming.

Over the many years, Mrs. Sargent has dedicated much of her free time and resources to Hill-Stead’s growth, and she is excited about the next chapter. Now on the brink of its 75th anniversary as a museum, Hill-Stead has a significant renovation project well underway. The incredible project will result in a state-of-the-art exhibition gallery, a new media space, a museum shop, and elevated educational & arts programming.

“I want to see Hill-Stead thrive and go on for the future,” says Mrs. Sargent.

To this end, Mrs. Sargent has supported both the current capital campaign and generously included Hill-Stead in her estate plans. We are immensely grateful for Mrs. Sargent’s extraordinary leadership and for leaving an indelible mark on Hill-Stead for generations to come.


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