Way Back When ... 1910
The Fairfield Museum opens a new exhibition next week, “Brooklawn: A Walk in the Park.”
The show, which runs in the Ruth Carlson Horn Gallery from Aug. 22 through Nov. 11, features photographer Ari Burling’s luminous early morning photographs of the Brooklawn neighborhood and its unique landscape and architecture. Historical vignettes of the home’s original owners and their businesses will also be part of the exhibition, alongside objects from the museum’s collections from that same time of national and local transition.
The Brooklawn neighborhood developed as an outgrowth of Bridgeport’s industrial revolution, providing a specially designed enclave for the booming city’s business leaders. Prior to the arrival of the industrial elite, this part of Fairfield was a farming community with green pastures.
Clapp Spooner, a prominent businessman, amassed 200 acres in the area by 1888, which he passed onto his daughter Lily at the time of his death in 1899. She began developing the area, and by 1910 advertisements were appearing in papers, trying to attract prominent buyers. In The Farmer in 1910, a headline read: “Brooklawn is to Bridgeport what Riverside Drive is to New York City — Its Finest Residential Section.” Around 1912, the first section of a 69-lot subdivision called Brooklawn Park opened to much fanfare.
According to a 2002 article in the New York Times, “The prestigious development attracted the likes of Edgar Webb Bassick of the local Bassick hardware manufacturing company; Webster Walker, head of the City Ice and Coal Company; and Horace Merwin, president of the Bridgeport Trust Company. The men plowed their fortunes into palatial houses, varying significantly in style. Whereas one Georgian Revival was known for its formal English gardens, another boasted an octagonal sunroom. Several residents opted for dour Tudors, and one indulged a fancy for a Mediterranean-style colonial complete with red tile roof.”
Today, many of the original homes still stand in the neighborhood, and Brooklawn Country Club serves as a hub of social, athletic and recreational pursuits.
Learn more about this community and the homes that make it special at the Fairfield Museum. An opening reception will be held on Aug. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. Burling will open the reception with remarks about his photographs, and Fairfield Museum's Curator of Exhibitions Laurie Lamarre will speak on Brooklawn's history.
About the Fairfield Museum & History Center
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10am-4pm. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org. The Fairfield Museum relies on funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Museum is especially grateful for support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, the State of Connecticut, Town of Fairfield and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.