Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio Under Restoration
The historic Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio are currently undergoing restoration and are closed to the public. The Burlingham House Visitor Center and park grounds remain open and available during regular hours. More »
A Legacy of Preservation
1957 to 2005
National Park Service, Weir Farm National Historic Site
Shortly after they moved in, however, the farming community of Branchville began a gradual transformation into a suburban residential area. Soon, a large portion of Weir's original land, including a fishing pond he had built with $2,500 first prize money he had won for a painting, was at risk to be developed. Their next-door neighbor Cora Weir Burlingham, Julian Alden Weir's youngest daughter, reportedly inspired Doris to become a preservation activist with a simple question: "Doris, don't you think you can save the pond?" Doris, along with her husband Sperry, acted. They organized and spearheaded a grassroots preservation movement, passing out pins to the community that read "Julian Weir Lives" and "Save the Farm." These, and other efforts, ultimately led to saving much of Julian Alden Weir's original property. In 1990, the saved sixty-acres became a unit in the National Park System, as Weir Farm National Historic Site. Sperry and Doris were granted life tenancy on the property, and they would often give impromptu tours of the studios to curious visitors.
Throughout his residency at Weir Farm, Sperry embraced the artistic tradition it held. "An artist friend once told me that there are two kinds of artists-the eyeballers and the cerebrals," he said. "I'm an eyeballer, I'd say. I'm inspired by things I see." He created thousands of paintings and drawings during his time at the farm, with numerous images of the farm itself. These works, primarily landscapes in oil and watercolor, continued to gain recognition in the greater community. He won several prestigious awards, such as the Salmagundi Club Award in 1962, and an election to the National Academy of Design in 1994. He exhibited frequently in galleries in Connecticut and New York, and his work was featured twice in the publication, American Artist. Additionally, Sperry was a teacher, holding classes at the Silvermine School of the Arts and the Wooster Community Arts Center.
Sperry died on July 14, 2005. Both he and his wife Doris are remembered as the steadfast and resolute stewards of Weir Farm, as well as for leaving their own artistic contribution to the legacy of the site.
Did You Know?
Painter Julian Alden Weir wanted to build a rural retreat in the Keene Valley area of the Adirondacks, but decided instead that his farm in Branchville, Connecticut, now preserved as Weir Farm National Historic Site, would make a more suitable home for his family.