Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rockport's Millbrook Meadow

Millbrook Meadow

Rockport’s  Magic Place

          Lura Hall Phillips just contributed over $100,000 to Rockport’s Millbrook Meadow.
Lura, died in 1994, at the age of 94. 
For over 40 years she fought to preserve Rockport’s Millbrook Meadow.  She left no stone unturned to collect donations—all to make improvements in what she called “Rockport’s ‘Magic Place’”.
            Lura was always working to make the Meadow better.  Although she lived a very frugal life, she managed to save up money to leave a sizeable donation for the preservation of the Meadow. 
When the new dam was completed in 2013, it became glaringly obvious that major improvements were needed in the Mill Pond and the little park that runs from the Mill Dam to Front Beach.
The Pond has been filling with sediment for years, and each year loses areas of clear water to the masses of invasive aquatic plants.  The Meadow drains poorly, resulting in times each spring when part of it is underwater.  The Mill Brook is cluttered with stones that have come loose and block the flow of water to the sea.  Finally, several of the large trees in the Meadow have reached the end of their lives, and need to be replaced.

Lura left a Trust fund of over $160,000.  Gunilla Caulfield, the trustee of that fund, arranged to give Rockport’s Millbrook Meadow and Mill Pond $60,000 in 2013, and that began the restoration project that is now under way.
With that first $60,000 in hand, Millbrook Meadow Committee initiated a request for another $60,000 from Town Meeting last year, and Rockporters voted to approve that last spring.  Last fall, Town Meeting approved another $100,000 from Community Preservation funds.
Now, Gunilla has closed Lura’s Trust Fund and sent the check for over $102,500 to the Town.  The Board of Selectmen are expected to approve this gift for Restoration of the Meadow and Pond.

Lura Phillips and Gunilla Caulfield, ca. 1988

          Rockport’s Department of Public Works and the Millbrook Meadow Committee have hired Milone & MacBroom of Springfield, MA to begin the task of studying the length and breadth of the Pond and Meadow, to draw up plans for just what needs to be done to revive the area.
            Rockport has formed the Rockport Millbrook Meadow Conservancy to conduct a public fund drive.  At present, the money required to complete this project is $690,000.

 May Day in Millbrook Meadow, 1989

            But—let us return to Lura, who died 20 years ago this year.  Who was she?

Lura Hall Phillips


Lura Hall Phillips, ca. 1991

              Lura Phillips was the lady who, back in 1951, went head-to-head with businessmen who wanted to convert the Meadow into a parking lot.  She was a one-woman bulldozer, raising funds for Millbrook Meadow.
“Whenever I go into the meadow,” she said, “I realize what a magic place it is. It doesn’t matter how I feel when I arrive. But once I get inside, I feel the magic and everything changes.”
           With Lura’s leadership, this “Magic Place” flourished.  She organized fairs and festivals, pet shows, art auctions, Maypole dances and much more, to raise funds for the beautification and preservation of Millbrook Meadow.
            She ran a drive to raise funds to build a bridge across the Mill Brook in the Meadow, and more funds to build a beautiful winding stone stairway from King Street down to the Meadow.

 Lura raised the money to build this stairway
 into the Meadow in 1992.

            Lura loved that Meadow, and protected it, and raised funds to keep it up. 

            Lura left money in a trust, and now we are using that as seed money to start our restoration of the Meadow.
            All during Lura’s later years, she saved her money. When she died in 1994 she left money to the Lura Hall Phillips Trust, for the improvement of her beloved Millbrook Meadow.             
            Lura loved Rockport, and she loved the Meadow.  Now, her money can be used to help restore the Meadow and the Pond, to make it the Magic Place for future generations.
            For more information see the Conservancy website at

For more information contact Sam Coulbourn, Chair, Millbrook Meadow Committee (978-546-7138) or Shannon Mason, Vice-Chair (214-686-9272).

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