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  • Ruth Bass

Richmond's 'Magic Forest' Preserved

Updated: Jul 2, 2023


The town’s much-loved archway of trees on Swamp Road gained new protection recently with the Richmond Land Trust’s purchase of 14 acres just north of Sleepy Hollow Road. The parcel is on the west side of Swamp Road and was bought in November from the estate of James Boynton.

In 2000, the land trust conducted a fund-raiser to a 28-acre parcel, also on the west side of the road, from James and Barbara Mihalke for $60,000. The recent purchase preserves the west side of Swamp from the Michael Beck property to Sleepy Hollow, which means it will remain woodland and never be developed.

The land trust bought the Boynton land in late 2022 with funds from the trust’s membership dues. Because the acreage had not passed three separate perc tests for septic construction, it was available for $78,000.

The Boynton family has been a force in the preservation of what many townspeople refer to as “the cathedral” on Swamp Road between East and Sleepy Hollow roads. Trees on the east and west side arch over the road and create a shady stretch through woodland on both sides. With the recent addition, plus conservation restrictions on the east side, that stretch of road have no houses, no utility poles and no wires.

The late Alma Boynton and her husband, C. Hilton Boynton, were residents of East Road for many years, restoring the house and farming the land. Their daughter, Jayne Boynton Merrick, occupies the East Road house now and in 2007 set up a conservation restriction on a 34-acre parcel on the east side of Swamp Road. In 2020, she bought the northern part of the Swamp Road property from her brother, James, and she expects this year to complete a conservation restriction on that land. It’s a 15-acre piece and will be permanently preserved from development.

A few gaps exist where trees have died and had to be removed. But for the most part, trees from either side reach across and touch, creating a shady stretch that the late Katharine Huntington Annin, writing her Richmond history many years ago, referred to as one of the town’s landmarks. And her hope that the stretch of road would always be there is assured.

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