Boothe Memorial Park, Stratford

November, 2008 by Ray Bendici
Photo by Ray Bendici

The Damned Story: Boothe Park proves the old adage, "If you have time, money, space, some significant eccentricities and the inclination to build stuff, then you too can create a bizarre memorial to yourself that will last for generations!"

All right, maybe I made that adage up, but you get the gist.

At the turn of the 20th century, brothers David Beach and Stephen Nichols Boothe decided to turn their 32 acres of property in Stratford overlooking the Housatonic River into a fun shrine to the unusual, the Boothe Memorial Museum. They collected a number of objects and built odd items on the property that had been in the respectable Boothe family for centuries. In addition to the mini windmill and clocktower, they added a mini lighthouse, a carriage house, a trolley station, blacksmith shop, a chapel, a model train museum, a technocratic building (with no windows or doors) and an Americana museum.

Photo by Ray Bendici

More recently, an original toll booth from the Merritt Parkway has been added to the property -- fittingly, it's the one that stood a short distance from the park, just before (or after, depending on which direction you were headed) the Sikorsky Bridge. The property is also hosts a small observatory (home of the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society), a nice playground and a rose garden.

For the record, the property also claims to be "the oldest homestead in America" as the main house sits on the foundation of a home build in 1663 and has been continuously occupied.

Aside from being a tad eccentric, there are those who believe Boothe Park is also haunted. (The Paranormal Research Society of New England has done extensive investigation of the site.) Visitors inside the old homestead have had weird feelings and experiences, including hearing unexplained knocking and disembodied voices. Next to the property is the small Boothe Cemetery, in which visitors have claimed to see anomalous forms and spirits.

Photo by Ray Bendici

Our Damned Experience: I visited Boothe Park on a chilly day in November 2005, camera in tow, and took a bunch of quasi "artsy" shots, including those you see here. Generally, I found the park to be like most town parks -- pleasant, well-maintained and welcoming to visitors. From what I understand, many of the unusual phenomena seem to occur in the homestead, which I was not able to gain entrance. I did wander into the cemetery and took photos there as well, but nothing otherworldly appeared.

If You Go: Boothe Park is now owned and operated by the town of Stratford and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's open to the public year-round, and during the warmer months, tours are available for some of the buildings.

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Submitted by Shellie Holland (not verified) on
Having lived in Bridgeport for my entire childhood and Stratford being so close by I have been here alot as a child.I never noticed anything odd and creepy about this park.I can not say I have ever been in the "haunted" homestead though so I could not tell you if that's truly haunted or not.

Submitted by Elizabeth (not verified) on
All I can recall is that when I was in second grade, we went on a field trip to the park. And I remember prior someone once told me that the musame had a third floor that had a lot of activity going on, and that they had to close it down ( I'm still not sure if it's shut or not). So being a kid and repeating everything, at the end of the tour I had asked the tour guide, "how come we didn't visit the third floor?" and she kind of had no idea what to say, but when I said "is it because it's haunted?" She yelled at me, and said that I was makeing stories up. Til this day I have always wondered what went on in those buildings and what they were hiding! I have never seen something myself, but if I was in the paranormal I would love to investigate!

I have passed this homestead many times, visited it, seen plays on it's grounds, and ran a road race through it......and never sensed or seen anything weird. When I am driving by in the evening though..especially on those chilly Falls night, I do get a weird feeling that come over me. Probably nothing I am sure..either way, this is a great place for a picnic, to just read, or to sit and think. Very unique...and very interesting. People need to take more advantage of this beautiful retreat...... A clear treasure!!!

Submitted by Adriana (not verified) on
I live in Stratford and have been to Boothe Park several times, all in all it's a beautiful park and it's one of Stratford's prized historical sites, but I have yet to see anything paranormal yet. I've walked through the cemetary and many of the stones are very old, and the museums and homestead were closed when I went so I haven't been able to get an official tour. I'm looking forward to it though! My personal favorites are the clock tower, and the cemetary. Great post, thanks again!

Submitted by Taylor (not verified) on
I myself have a family filled with what on e may like to call a "witch" or what I prefer, a wiccan. My cousins, my brother, and I have all inherited the family trait-- the strong connection to the spirit world. I'm not saying that I'm for absolute sure a medium, however I am definitely able to feel the prescense of the dead, sometimes see figures, and on occasion make contact. Living down the street from Booth Park, I went this past Samhain (Halloween) with a few friends and let me tell you, that graveyard is haunted. Upon entering the temperature dropped significantly to the point where we all shivered. I also felt the strongest sensation of being folled and felt a slight breath on the back of my neck. It was very scary to say the least. A strong feeling of impending doom overcame me and I hand to exit the cemetery. The rest of the park isn't too bad. Creepy and territorial feeling? Yes. But when the door is open on Samhain, you can litterally feel the horror.

Submitted by Nanceen (not verified) on
I was flabbergasted when I read that Boothe Memorial Park was supposedly haunted and eccentric. I was married there in 1989, September 10th. I jad a nice wedding, was married by a priest, a photographer took lots of photos. No spots, ghosts or noises. Just the organ playing Wagner's "Here Comes the Bride" .

Submitted by jess (not verified) on
my mother has a picture somewhere (Polaroid) from a party we attended there as children, the whole photo has a transparent figure on it that looks like an upside down man.. i have to ask here what she did with it. it is creepy.

Submitted by rose (not verified) on
I live in stratford and went to Booth park several years ago. The day I visited park was a cold fall evening with my family. I don't like the feeling of the park it feels very odd and ..somthing was not in order its just a feeling. My husdand even feel the same way who is not even a believer of haunted and ..I strongly believe somthing is wrong with it.

Submitted by dan (not verified) on
I never saw ghosts there but I once saw a skunk in the parking lot. It created a kind of eerie feeling so I left.

Submitted by rick agvent (not verified) on
a little known fact around 1925 a sort of scandal took place in stratford a recently married boothe brother was being divorced by his wife because he still wanted to sleep with his brother i saw an article in an old newspaper bout this once but it seems to have been forgotten as i cannot find a related story online

Submitted by Mary H. (not verified) on
When I lived in Stratford back in the late 70's early 80's, I used to walk to Flood Jr. High School and on the way there would pass Booth Memorial Park on the left side of the road, there was a pond with and in the woods by the pond I came upon a stand as one a preacher would stay at and there was a couple of long simple wooden benches. My hair on the back of my neck and arms would stick up but I had no feelings of being scared. I actually sat there and looked at the stand and felt a peaceful feeling come over me. I wonder if anyone else remembers this place. As far as Booth Memorial Park itself, I kept having a feeling as if I was being watched.

Submitted by eric (not verified) on
growing up in stratford, i have been here many times, with school field trips and as high school kids looking for a place to hang out at night.... that being said, late at night, we have heard and seen things while standing on the porch of the building that houses a lot of relics of the civil war... the clock tower building. i've heard from others that they have experienced things in that building as well.

Submitted by Daneen (not verified) on
I went there once for my son's little league end of season picnic. It's a nice park, but there is something creepy about it. This was years ago (maybe 10-12) and I distinctly remember telling my husband I felt creeped out by it. It's like an overall heaviness or oppression, that's the best way I can describe it.

Submitted by jessica (not verified) on
Ive lived in stratford my wholr life and been to.boothe park alot. Me and my friends would go there to hang out or go sledding in the winter. Ive actually had a few odd experiences there. One time at night in the fall me and my friends went to the cemetary to take pictures. We were drinking too but, I had prbeen saying stuff li,e your all dead and provocking spirits which I know isnt right byt I was a teenager n drinkin. Well we actually caught some orbes.n mist in pictures. We left he cemetary n got bored so we went to other places like a school which was not haunted n took pictures not trying to get ghosts in film just to take pics w my friends and we had orbes all arounf my head in the photos and we think since we went to boothe n may have disturbed spirits that they may have followed us, im not surd though. It was weird we had orbes n all pictures the rest of night after boothe. Another experience I had wad getting weird feelings there and my boyfriend is a handy man n did a job thsre before in a barn n got creeped out in the attic and was really cold. I still go to boothe here n there, never anything super scary has happend but im very curious w paranormal. I apologize for spelkig errors, im on my cell ohone. I think the graveyard has the most activity. Im plannig to go again soon n see what happens.

I knew the old caretaker, and he had the stories as he was friends with the Boothes. In the Homestead, upstairs is the "Sad Room" many people have been overcome by grief even standing in the doorway. He let me go in, and it was very overwhelming. A little girl can be seen looking out the window from that room. I don't know how well known that fact is, it was at one time, part of the tour. Lots gets lost to time.. I have heard numerous stories by Historical Society members who won't sit alone at night there. The strong sense that someone is coming down the stairs..

Submitted by M Carattini (not verified) on
Born and raised in Stratford, Ct.. I have been to Booth Memorial Park on numerous occasions for picnics, weddings, sledding and just to look around. The only building that ever gave me a creepy feeling is the big brown building. We use to call it the basket building. We always felt like someone was in the building with us. I believe there is an upper level like a balcony and it felt something was up there watching us. We would stay in there for about 3 minutes which was about our limit they run out terrified.

Submitted by theresa (not verified) on
My daughter, her friend and I visited and toured the house last summer, the guide was most gracious and as curious as we were, she began to play the old stenograph located in the parlor and immediately behind us we could hear rushing stomping feet coming towards us along with a loud bang. We were overcome by feelings of anxiety, however I quickly chirped up "that we too enjoy this type of music just as he had and would you like to dance". When my daughters friend turned to me and said stop tugging my shirt, I looked at her and told her that no-one was tugging her shirt, I asked her what it felt like, she said, there it goes again, someone is tugging my shirt. We all felt a presence of drear on the 2nd floor in the ladys room, however it was an overall great experience. We will continue to go back.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
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Submitted by Tom (not verified) on
Visiting Booth Park over the past few years not knowing much about its rich history; We decided one day spent there to take a tour of the homestead. The homes kitchen had time period appliances therein. The Booth brothers came from wealth. I'm not sure if inherited or self made. Not important! But this house is worth a tour if anyone decides to visit the park. You will get educated on the brother's, the home and how the Town of Stratford acquired it. Also take a walk around the property and check out some of the buildings there. In the parking lot is the old Stratford Parkway Toll Booth. No pun intended to Booth Park.Otherwise; I was there two times after for a company picnic. This place is really, well kept and kind of cool if you like history and architecture but not much in the way or weirdness phenomenon. One interesting fact is the tree in the front yard by the porch is extremely old.

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