Reverend Francis Goodwin (1839 – 1923)
Reverend Francis Goodwin was a descendant of one of Hartford’s founding families and an amateur architect. As Commissioner of the Hartford Parks Commission, Goodwin championed the cause of green spaces with the slogan “More Parks for Hartford!” He envisioned Hartford being encircled by public parks and convinced several wealthy families, including Charles Pond and Henry Keney, to donate large estates to the cause resulting in the establishment of Elizabeth and Keney Parks.
South Park opened to the public around 1900 in Hartford’s south end. The following year, the parks commission renamed it Goodwin Park in recognition of Rev. Goodwin’s service to the city. At one time, Reverend Goodwin was also recognized as Hartford’s “largest individual tax payer.”
With no other sufficient site available, Goodwin Park was the landing site for the first airmail planes in Hartford in 1918. In 1921, two young airmen were killed trying to land in the park. It was this incident that prompted Mayor Newton C. Brainard to build a proper landing field, now known as Brainard Airport.
Today, Goodwin Park is comprised of 237 acres of land offering a playground, community pool and public golf course. The Friends of Goodwin Park is a community group that serves to watch over the park’s maintenance and work on improvement projects.
Hartford Courant. “Death of Rev. Dr. Goodwin Unexpectedly Takes City’s Venerable Leading Citizen.” October 6, 1923, pp. 1.
Hartford, Connecticut. Neighborhoods: South End. Accessed at http://hartford.omaxfield.com/soend.html on August 24, 2010.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation. City of Hartford Parks System. Accessed at http://tclf.org/landslides/city-hartford-parks-system on August 24, 2010.