History

Walter Gordon Merritt

Walter Gordon Merritt

In the late 1920s the prominent lawyer, Walter Gordon Merritt, began to buy connected parcels of land on both sides of the Fairfield County, Connecticut and Putnam County, New York border. Eventually the property he came to call Great Hollow reached more than 1,600 acres in size. Upon his death in 1968, he left the majority of the land to Wesleyan University for “charitable, scientific and educational uses and purposes.” The property was subsequently conveyed to the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut, which operated the Great Hollow Wilderness School on the property for many years. In 2015, the property was acquired from the YMCA and the Great Hollow Nature Preserve & Ecological Research Center was founded with the intent to continue honoring Mr. Merritt’s wish that the land be available to the public and used by students, teachers, and scientists for education and research. Great Hollow Nature Preserve & Ecological Research Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to land and wildlife conservation, applied ecological research, experiential environmental education, and outdoor recreational opportunities for the public enjoyment of nature. The preserve features more than four miles of hiking trails that are open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.

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