In 1884, Springfield residents Orick Greenleaf and Everett Barney donated 65 and 178 acres of land, respectively, for the creation of an urban park to be named Forest Park.
Barney made his fortune during the Civil War as an arms producer (Springfield was world-renowned for its armories), and later invented clamp-on roller skates and ice skates. He convinced many of his wealthy neighbors to contribute land to the project as well, and the park ultimately consisted of 735 acres of public space.
Designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the park features winding trails through the woods, carriage paths, aquatic gardens, and surprising views from multiple vistas throughout the grounds. The first public swimming pool opened to the public in Forest Park in 1899. Today, the park includes a zoo, multiple baseball fields (with a grandstand), playgrounds, a summer camp, an outdoor education facility, and the remnants of the Barney estate.
After the park opened Barney and his family continued to live on their nearby grounds. In 1890, they built an expansive mansion on Laurel Hill, overlooking the Connecticut River. The mansion was demolished in the 1950s to make way for the new interstate, Route 91, and now the Carriage House (used today as a banquet hall) and mausoleum are all that remain of the former family home.
The mausoleum, located just south of the family home and protected by an ornate iron fence, holds the remains of Barney, his wife Eliza Jane Knowles Barney, and their son George. The tomb has two sets of stairs on either end, leading up to a temple consisting of 12 pink marble columns. An inscription on each side reads: “To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die.” The stairways on both ends are guarded by a sphinx. Just to the west is a commanding view of the Connecticut River.
After Barney’s death in 1916, he bequeathed all of his remaining property to the city of Springfield to be included in the park. His family home has been an urban jewel ever since.