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.
The Isaac Sprague Memorial Tower, popularly known as The Clock Tower, was erected in 1928 at Elm Park, Wellesley Hills Square. The late Isaac Sprague and the late John D. Hardy had purchased the old Elm Park Hotel twenty years previously. A fund of $20,000 was raised by public subscription during 1908 to insure a park at the junction of Worcester and Washington Streets. Mr. Sprague gave the stone for the construction of the clock tower, which was designed by Benjamin Proctor, Jr., a local architect who planned many of the Town's public and private buildings. The Tower houses the clock and bell given to the former Shaw School by the late John W. Shaw.
Since its founding in 1955, The Hills Garden Club of Wellesley has proudly been associated with the design, planting, and upkeep of Elm Park, fondly referred to as Clock Tower Park. The Club’s first president, Mrs. A. Dudley Bach, made it the first civic improvement concern of the Club, and in each succeeding year, the Club has carefully and lovingly nurtured the park.
While collaborating with the Department of Public Works, Park & Tree Division, in 2002 a concerted effort was begun to enhance and improve the park with better pedestrian access and amenities. This effort has resulted in a new patio, paths, labyrinth, benches, picnic tables, and gardens.
In 2004, Phase One was begun. The east side of the park became the focus by removing the bus shelter and accenting the new garden space with an ornamental fence and beautiful stone pillars built from stone from Wellesley. This was accomplished in three phases with many people throughout town involved in the effort. Phase Four continues with a similar focus on the west end. This work has been done with the approval of the Natural Resources Commission as owners of the land.
The club has helped to fund multiple planting projects at the park between the four phases.
(this article was written in collaboration with Cricket Vlass, Landscape Planner/Town of Wellesley)
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.