New turf and track at Lauralton help celebrate 150-year anniversary

Lauralton Hall in Milford is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Victorian Gothic mansion that houses the school with, among other events, construction of an artificial turf field and a three-lane track.

“This multi-purpose turf field, a synthetic alternative to grass, is a great addition to our athletic program,” said Dr. Antoinette (Toni) Iadarola, president. “It will accommodate our competitive track, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams.”

“Our athletic program is integral to our mission and core values,” Iadarola said. “Our young women scholar/athletes learn the many facets of playing sports: The discipline of training, teamwork, respect, good sportsmanship, learning to lose, and praise for a job well done.”

The new artificial turf and track field will replace an existing field, and it is located on the immediate left as one drives onto the campus from High Street.

The field will benefit  both Lauralton Hall and the Milford community, Iadarola said.

“I am open to mutually beneficial partnerships,” she said, adding that there is a popular summer program that takes place at the school, and students enrolled in that will be able to use the new athletic amenities.

Artificial turf is a trend in high school sports.

“Most, if not all, of the schools Lauralton Hall competes with in the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) have turf,” Iadarola said. “We are an environmentally friendly campus, and synthetic turf requires substantially less water than natural grass and avoids the need for pesticides or fungicides.”

It took a long time for ground preparation work to be complete.

“In the last five months, the ground has been broken and the 150-year-old underground utilities and sewage conduits have been replaced,” said Executive Director of Development Lisa Hottin.

The total project cost is expected to be around $1.7 million, and funds are still being raised, Hottin added.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“This construction is made possible by the continuing generosity of the trustees, faculty/staff, alumnae and friends of Lauralton Hall,” Iadarola said. “We look forward to working with the Lauralton community in completing the fund-raising for the project.”

This 2014-15 academic school year marks the 150-year anniversary of the Pond-Taylor estate, the home of the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall.

Constructed in 1864, the Victorian Gothic mansion is the main structure on the campus. According to historic accounts, it was built for Charles Hobby Pond, a descendant of a colonial Milford family.

In 1889, the property, known as Island View, was sold by the Pond heirs to Henry Augustus Taylor, a New York financier. He renamed it Lauralton Hall after his mother and deceased daughter, who were both named Laura.

Mary Augustine Claven then purchased the property in 1905. Per the request of the Taylor family, the name Lauralton Hall remained.