Hidden Gem of
Unionville , CT
Also known as Rainbow Park, Suburban Park was in operation from 1895 to 1905. It was owned and operated by The Farmington Street Railway Company. Many similar parks were created throughout the United States at the turn of the century. They were built to entice city folks to go into the suburbs. It took 1 hour and 15 minutes to arrive at the park from Hartford and it cost 15 cents per traveler. Suburban Park was first opened on Memorial Day of 1895 and its opening was a well advertised event by the The Hartford Courant. At thirty five acres, the park extended well into today’s Farmington Woods. The entrance was to the west of the present entry and a set of wooden stairs led uphill to the dance pavilion. It held acres “of manicured lawns and water features” including canals and a dam. The miles of shaded paths and walkways snaked through the woods and were well lit by numerous Japanese lanterns hung in the trees. It served as an amusement park, held festivals, lectures, dances and fairs. Park goers would play “ball games, polo games”, “studied trees and birds”, and “played in the grove.” It featured several buildings including a dance pavilion, a pagoda, a photography gallery, an ice cream parlor, a pavilion cafe, railroad offices and a barn. There were tennis courts, chair and rope swings and hammocks. The park was used by organizations such as Courant’s Fresh Air Fund, Good Will Boys, Open Hearts Shelter, Sunday School picnics, Sisters of Mercy and Friday Eve Club. Many local factory owners held their company outings at the park. During World War II, Suburban Park was home of one of the two airplane observation posts in Farmington/Unionville. The park’s closure was caused by “lack of continued patronage” after the trolley reduced the amount and times of cars running to it and increased the fare. Approximately fifteen acres of the original property were sold off to different buyers over the years leaving 20.5 acres which were purchased by Roger Toffolon of White Oak Construction Co. He intended to built approximately 50 houses on. Through efforts of local citizens, Farmington Land Trust and Unionville Historical Society, in 1999, a referendum was passed by 85% majority approving the purchase of the land for $1.2 million to be used as open space.
All photographs seen on this site were used with permission and courtesy of the Unionville Museum, Farmington Historical Society, The Hartford Courant, Royalty-free pictures from Google and a drawing of Unionville by Jean Johnson from her book "Ten Trading Tales" published by Town of Farmington B.O.E.