Connecting People with that land that sustains us

 

The fields, forests, and shoreline of Mouse's Hall, totalling 33 acres - are now protected forever.

Town of Springfield- The Cunningham family has partnered with Otsego Land Trust to protect 33 acres of lakeside, woodlands, and fields, part of the Glimmerglass Historic District, permanently. The property borders Glimmerglass State Park, near the popular Sleeping Lion Trail, on the north end of Otsego Lake. Family member Tara Sumner proudly declared “This land links generations of our family, and we wanted to protect both that connection as well as the land, forever.”

Henry L. Wardwell, was a commodities trader in New York City, and learned about this iconic region from his high school friend Leslie Pell Clarke of Springfield. He was interested in raising horses, as well as other animals, and purchased land from the Clarke family of Hyde Hall, in the 1880’s at the north-end of Otsego Lake. He later donated the Public Landing and town beach to the Town of Springfield, to provide residents with lake access in perpetuity. This family history of land conservation along the shores of the lake for the public benefit was a deep motivator to conserve the property.

Wardwell introduced racehorse breeding to the area, building large barns and a a horse racing track on the flats north of the lake. This area now includes farm fields, and several holes of the Otsego Golf Club, one of the oldest golf courses in America, founded by Wardwell and others. Later, Wardwell raised prize pigs and Shropshire sheep, which he entered in shows, winning championships as far abroad as England.

Five of Wardwell’s seven daughters survived, and his descendants, now numbering in the hundreds, from all over the world, return each year, to the landscape they love. “Having this land that goes from generation to generation keeps the Wardwell family members together. The land is the link, it connects us all,” Tara stated.

Working with the Otsego Land Trust, the family came together in their desire to protect their portion of the land permanently, something that Wardwells' youngest daughter, Minere Cunningham, had always wanted to do.

Everyone in the family has a different favorite spot on the land. They enjoy the wildlife, birds, deer, wild turkeys and chipmunks, as well as the wild flowers, hundred-year-old trees, edible mushrooms, and a large variety of woodland plants.

While building “Mouse’s Hall”, Minere Cunningham's husband, Frederic, who loved beech trees, found one in the woods above the house on "Mount Wellington" and transplanted it in front of the house. Like other beech trees in this area it succumbed to blight, but from its roots a healthy youngster sprang up, and is still growing well today... a testament for the Cunningham family to the intimate connection they have with the local landscape.

The conservation easement provides flexibility, as portions of the forest are able to be sustainably managed and timbered, preserving the ecosystem of the woods and managed forest. The lakefront of the property is protected from future development, helping to preserve the water quality of Otsego Lake, which the Village of Cooperstown depends on for its drinking water, along with countless communities downstream along the Susquehanna River.

If you, or someone you know is interested in protecting their land forever, please contact Ethan Rubenstein at 607-547-2366 or ethan@otsegolandtrust.org


Otsego Land Trust is a regional not-for-profit organization conserving our natural heritage of woodlands, farmlands, and waters that sustain rural communities, promote public health, support wildlife diversity and inspire the human spirit.

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