The Club’s main civic improvement project is the preservation and enhancement of Elm Park/Clock Tower Park located at 301 Washington Street in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout it's entire association with the park, Club members have been devoted to beautifying the park all year long. Volunteers spend summers weeding the beds and helping with fall clean-up. In addition to this, in the fall members plant tulip and daffodil bulbs that provide a beautiful display of welcomed color when they bloom in the spring.
Who hasn't come back to Wellesley, spotted the Clock Tower in Elm Park and thought, "I'm home! " This National Register of Historic Places jewel is "home" to the Hills Garden Club of Wellesley, too.
Perched between bustling Washington Street and Worcester Road, you may have seen our club members weeding and pruning in the park during Spring and Summer. In the Fall, daffodil bulbs are put to bed with dreams of sunny yellow explosions when the world awakes from a snowy rest. We lovingly maintain this oasis of peace to provide respite for the busy lives led by our fellow townspeople.
Standing on the site of the old Elm Park Hotel (c. 1904 - 1908), the clock tower was erected in 1928. The stately landmark was designed by prominent and prolific local architect Benjamin Proctor Jr. of Abbott Road. He re-utilized a clock and bell originally donated by John W. Shaw to a schoolhouse named after him at the corner of Forest and Washington Streets in 1874. This clock was created by master craftsmen at E. Howard Watch & Clock Co., and William Blake & Co. forged the bell. Aren't we lucky that the clock mechanism is 40 feet long? This informed the design of the beautiful tower we love today in order for the clock to function. Isaac Sprague donated the stone to build the tower,
but only following his death in 1934 did Town Meeting adopt a resolution to rename the structure the “Isaac Sprague Memorial Tower.” Perhaps it's fitting that the bell no longer tolls because time indeed seems to stand still while enjoying the solace of our charming park.
From our founding in 1955, the Hills Garden Club of Wellesley has viewed Elm Park as our most important civic contribution. Over these many years, the HGCW has mounted fundraising through dues, garden tours, raffles and sales to enhance the park with a patio, paths, benches, picnic tables, gardens and a labyrinth to entice visitors to linger. None of this would have been possible without the strategic plan and creative vision of landscape planner for the Town of Wellesley, Cricket Vlass. All work has been done with
the approval of the Natural Resources Commission as owners of the land.
Phase One - 2004: focused on the east side and included the installation of a new brick patio with granite medallion and three benches, stone pillars with lights, ornamental fencing and new trees, shrubs and perennials. The center medallion features a granite “clock” with the time set at 4:06, the date of Wellesley’s incorporation in 1881. Phase One was funded in part by the club’s Garden Tour of 2004.
Phase Two - 2005: included installation of a brick path with a granite cobble edge to connect the new patio with the existing patio, three picnic tables with brick pads, over 250 feet of ornamental fencing along the west side and two more stone pillars with lights. An additional 76 feet of fencing was added at the east end of the park to delineate the borders. Phase Two was funded through a joint application to the CPC by the GC and DPW.
Phase Three - 2008: included a continuation of the brick and cobble path to connect to the stairs at the base of the Clock Tower funded in part by the club’s Garden Tour of 2008.
Phase Four - 2015: included the installation of a cobble and grass labyrinth funded in part by the Club’s Garden Tour of 2015.