Winners of the Rooms in Bloom Joyce E. Coughlin Floral Design Award

You voted, and the winners are…

We hope you had the opportunity to experience Rooms in Bloom this weekend and vote for your favorite floral arrangement. Hill-Stead is thrilled to announce the winners of the first annual Joyce E. Coughlin Floral Design Award, recognizing the top two floral designs YOU selected at Rooms in Bloom. Thank you to Scot Coughlin and David Kesselman, for so generously making this award possible!

First Place $1,500
Kathleen Schwartz Flower Design

Kathleen Schwartz presented “There’s a Wedding at Hill-Stead,” arrangements inspired by envisioning a Pope-Riddle family wedding. She imagined flower girls with ruffled dresses and ribbons and flowers in their hair. She placed a small circlet of flowers resting on a tray on the settee below Mary Cassatt’s painting, a flower arrangement in a footed compote on the dresser, two smaller arrangements flanking the clock over the mantel, and an informal bunch of flowers in the bathroom.

Kathleen Schwartz Flower Design focuses on the botanical beauty of stems, petals, foliage, buds, branches, berries, fruits and greens, artfully arranged to bring sensory pleasure to the experience. Their passion and intent are with local flowers, from seed to centerpiece, and the designs from nature they inspire.

Second Place $500
Haworth’s Flowers & Gifts

Kirsten Havelevitch and Sue Albair from Haworth’s in Farmington perfectly captured the masculine hues of Hill-Stead’s First Library with two gorgeous designs. Haworth’s Flowers & Gifts, LLC is a 4th generation florist located in the heart of the Farmington Village.


Special thanks to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for photographing Rooms in Bloom

2018 Fresh Voices Finalists Announced

Hill-Stead is honored to announce the finalists for the 2019 Fresh Voices Poetry Competition:

Vanecia Fultz
Jamie Masthay
Sarah Lewis
Elliana Branchesi
Ellis McGinley
Adena Ajike
Abigail Tyrrel
Lauren Dionne
Molly Galusha
Kennedy King
Molly Alexander
Kimberly McGuire
Daniel Diaz-Villafane
Alex Nordlund
Youssef Mezrioui
Rachel Justice



Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that Major Jackson has selected Chaun Ballard as the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize!

Chaun Ballard will be reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on July 11, 2018.  For details, see our Calendar.

Flight by Chaun Ballard

Chaun Ballard was raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California, and has an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. For eight years now, he and his wife have been teaching in the Middle East and West Africa. Chaun Ballard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in ANMLY (FKA Drunken Boat), Columbia Poetry Review, Frontier Poetry, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, Rattle, and other literary magazines. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.


The poems in Flight unspool a rich and charmed history of survival into songs that celebrate the miracle of endurance in a country defined by the peculiar phenomenon of race; many of the poems in this collection explore (or allude to) the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson with a brilliance that is underscored by the poets’ extraordinary sense of sound to etch a new reality in our ears. Here the poet employs the perennial powers of poetic forms (pantoum, ghazals, and sonnets, not to mention the Stevens imitation of 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird) to refresh staid conversations and to lyrically give voice to the good fortune of travel and language. Whether reveling in having reached middle-age or recalling that fateful day, September 11th, Flight issues its own battle cry and imaginatively addresses one of the great complexities of our time.

—Judge’s Citation by Major Jackson


Symptoms by Nava EtShalom
Adoption by Adam Falkner
Dislocated Cities by Lisa Hiton
Speyer by Lisa Hiton
Where’s The Heat by Maggie Millner
Subnivean by Emily Pittinos
One Sentence To Save in a Cataclysm by Stephanie Strickland
Hallelujah in a Dead Tongue by Mark Wagenaar
What Follows by H.R. Webster


In the Herald of Improbable Fortunes by Robert Campbell
Desert Selkie by Avra Elliott
Year of the Girl by Karen Harryman
The Old Works by Whittney Jones
Sublingual by Joan Kane
Big Man by Michael Marberry
Sympathy by Dusty Neu
Respira by Valorie Ruiz
This Late Hour by Joe Wilkins
The Escapist: Poems by Marco Yan

We’d like to recognize and thank so very appreciatively our extraordinary panel of preliminary readers: Maureen Alsop, Claudia Cortese, Noah Falck, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Michael Robins, Henk Rossouw, Shelly Taylor, and Allison Titus.


Diamonds in the Rough: Golfing at Hill-Stead

June 17 – November 4, 2018

Explore the game of golf as it was played at the turn of the 20th century and enjoyed by the Pope family. View vintage golf equipment, artifacts, clothing and art on loan from the United States Golf Association Museum, Connecticut Historical Society, Fairfield Museum & History Center and a private collector. An audio component will present a first-person account of golf through the eyes of Alfred Pope, drawn from archival documents. Outdoors, view a recreation of a period tee.



One Million Visitors

Will you be the visitor who makes history?

After 70 years as a world-class art and history museum in Farmington, Hill-Stead is expecting to welcome its 1,000,000th visitor during mid-December. Come to Hill-Stead during the next few weeks and find out if you win our special commemorative “Theodate Mug” designed exclusively for the milestone event!

If you have ever wanted to visit this magical place, now is a perfect time. The historic house is all decked out with holiday decorations and delightful trimmings around every corner. December is also the last month to view the fabulous Broadway costume exhibition: From Page to Stage: Broadway Costumes from the Goodspeed Musicals Collection.

This holiday season, we welcome all visitors to experience all that the Hill-Stead has to offer. Explore the grounds, take a tour of the house, tour our special Broadway costume exhibition, and experience the gift left to us all by our beloved Theodate Pope Riddle.

Save the Stone Wall

Donate Now
The beautiful landscape of Farmington’s Hill-Stead is defined by its iconic stone walls. The walls were built from area basalt and trap rock, as well as stones from the farms that had previously been on the property.

A part of the stone wall surrounding the Sunken Garden will soon be in need of some critical care and must be rebuilt.

We are looking for $50 from 300 heroes to meet a $15,000 goal to help fund this essential repair.

  • Every donation will be used to support the stone wall restoration.
  • Please make a gift today, and thank you for helping to preserve the stone walls of Hill-Stead.

From Page to Stage: Broadway Costumes from the Goodspeed Musicals Collection

September 21, 2017 – January 1, 2018

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This special exhibition of Broadway costumes throughout the historic house is on view from September 21 through January 1, 2018. It honors the Pope Family’s enjoyment of literature, poetry and live performances, particularly theater and opera.

The time period of the shows featured mirror the years 1901 to 1946 when the Pope family resided in Farmington and features vignettes of costumes with accessories and archival ephemera. View magnificent costumes from shows such as Showboat, Anything Goes, Pirates of Penzance, Carousel, and Kiss Me, Kate, as well as lesser-known productions. Original theater programs on loan from the American Musical Theater Collection at Yale University Library and period sound recordings will add an extra dimension to this unique experience throughout the museum.

In partnership with

Presented by

Elizabeth Ferry Speer Foundation

A New Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

By Lea Anne Moran, Garden Manager

What is a pollinator garden, you might ask? Aren’t all gardens good for pollinators? It’s nice to think that, but it’s not necessarily so.

Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

A honey bee on the heirloom garden heliotrope in the Sunken Garden.

For the past three decades, visitors to Hill-Stead Museum have grown to love and appreciate the scenic historic Sunken Garden, easily viewed from the top of the steps. Those who venture down are often surprised to see the multitude of bees, butterflies, birds, and moths enjoying themselves among the plants. There are some plants in the garden that the bees just love: the many varieties of purple and blue salvia are among their favorites. Some they like to look at, but not touch, like the pink and white Japanese anemone. I’ve watched bees hover and dance around these pretty, bouncing flowers, but after a look or maybe a sniff, they fly on to the next bed for a tastier treat.

So then, what is a pollinator garden? It is one that contains plants that provide nectar and pollen for pollinators, and offers a place for them to
call home. Master Gardener interns and graduates have been hard at work planning a new pollinator garden on the museum grounds that will serve this purpose. Not only will it be a habitat and food source for bees, butterflies and others, it will be a beautiful and colorful garden for visitors to explore. And the best thing is that it will make use of a long-forgotten space that was once a productive greenhouse for the Pope and Riddle families. At its peak, it was filled with bedding plants grown from seed for the gardens on the property and provided plants and blooms for the home. What better way to use the space than to fill it once again with beautiful blooms, climbing vines and flowering shrubs?

Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

An early image of one of three greenhouses on the Hill-Stead grounds.

The old stone foundation of the greenhouse still stands strong but has been overgrown with vines, poison ivy and tree seedlings. It is tucked behind the stone garage, the low stone building facing the Pope house that you drive past to get to the parking lot. You can get to these “ruins” through a vine-covered opening in the high stone wall at the southeast side of the Sunken Garden. Only the curious have ventured there in the past, but it will soon be the home of a bountiful, colorful garden for visitors to explore and appreciate.


Pollinator Garden at Hill-Stead

Master gardeners hard at work laying the cardboard and landscape fabric over the poison ivy and other weeds.

This past year, a team of Master Gardener interns led by Lora Madorin, Susan Caron and Lea Anne Moran developed a plan for the space. They considered carefully the historic aspect of the site, and their research for plant material included studying invoices found in the archives for plants that would have been grown there. They scoured the long lists of pollinator-friendly plants currently available on the market and have put together a “wish list.”

Clearing the land has been the biggest hurdle. The area was filled with poison ivy that had to be addressed first. Several options were considered, and in the end, layers of landscape fabric and cardboard were laid as a first line of defense. This spring, the group assessed the area and began soil preparation.

The Master Gardeners are seeking plant donations and have many ideas for future educational programs. Keep an eye out for updates on this revitalized outdoor space at Hill-Stead.