Current Exhibit

William B. Carlin: Passionately Dedicated to Preserving Weir Farm

A man with grey hair, wearing a light brown sweater, standing in front of a red house with white trim.
William B. Carlin in front of Weir House, ca. 1985. Courtesy Cathy Barner.

William Bayard Carlin (1927-2014) was the grandson of Julian Alden Weir, for whom Weir Farm is named. Carlin’s parents were Cora Weir and William E. Carlin. Cora would later marry Charles Burlingham. As a child, Carlin spent every weekend at Weir Farm with his family. He explored the woods, rode ponies, and was surrounded by his family’s love of art and nature. As an adult, he would become instrumental in preserving his home and playground.

Saving Weir Farm was a long, complex process. The earliest preservation efforts focused on protecting Weir Pond and the surrounding open space from suburban development. In 1969 Carlin worked as an Associate Director of Development with the Nature Conservancy and helped his mother, Cora Weir Burlingham, donate 37 acres of her property to this organization, thus forming the Weir Preserve.

The J. Alden Weir Farm Committee for Heritage Conservation Inc. or, The Committee, was formed in 1979 with Carlin as its chairman. The Committee focused on the farm’s historic and artistic importance as the driving force to save it from development. Unable to succeed alone, The Committee asked the Trust for Public Land (TPL) for assistance in 1983. Ernest Cook, a TPL project manager, remembered Carlin as “passionately dedicated to the preservation of Weir Farm,” and that Carlin’s fundraising background with the Nature Conservancy could be helpful in raising money to protect Weir Farm.”

Cook was successful and Cora Weir Burlingham’s next and final donation was to the TPL. On December 12, 1986. Carlin, acting as power of attorney for his mother, signed the deed transferring her home and 10 acres to the TPL. Later that night Cora Weir Burlingham died, knowing that she and her son, William B. Carlin had succeeded in preserving the family property and its important role in the emergence of American Impressionism. Today her home serves as the Weir Farm National Historical Park Visitor Center.

Carlin served as Director and Secretary of the Weir Farm Heritage Trust that was founded in 1988. The Trust was then designated interim manager of the property until 1990 when Congress established Weir Farm as a National Historic Site. The Weir Farm Trust and the National Park Service organized a major exhibit of Julian Alden Weir’s paintings in 2000 titled, “A Connecticut Place: Weir Farm, An American Painter’s Rural Retreat.” Carlin lent several artworks to this exhibit including The Open Barway and Connecticut Birches.

Carlin was also on the Board of Directors at the New York Botanical Garden, the Richardson Bay Association, the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, and the Advisory boards for the Trust for Public Land and the National Maritime Museum. Carlin died on May 11, 2014, just days before the grand opening of the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio. Today, the William B. Carlin Trust manages Carlin’s art collection. The Trust generously allows Weir Farm National Historical Park to use their art in exhibitions and publications. Last year the Trust, in association with the family of William B. Carlin and the Weir Farm Art Alliance, donated to the Park the five paintings in this exhibition.

William B. Carlin: Passionately Dedicated to Preserving Weir Farm is on view in the Burlingham House Visitor Center from May 3 - October 29, 2023, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Wednesdays to Sundays.

A painting of white trees at dusk.
Gift of The William B. Carlin Trust and the family of William B. Carlin.

NPS Photo

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
Connecticut Birches
Oil on canvas
ca. 1898

A painting of a women with brown hair, wearing a white dress, kneeling in front of a table.
Acquired from The William B. Carlin Trust and the family of William B. Carlin.

NPS Photo

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
In the Summerhouse
Oil on canvas
ca. 1914

A painting of a meadow with a stone wall. The stone wall has an opening.
Gift of The William B. Carlin Trust and the family of William B. Carlin.

NPS Photo

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
The Open Barway
Oil on Canvas
ca. 1910

A painting of a women wearing a white dress.
Gift of The William B. Carlin Trust and the family of William B. Carlin.

NPS Photo

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
Anna Dwight Weir in White
Oil on board
ca. 1890–1892

A painting of a foggy morning on a farm with a bright light shinning through the trees.
Gift of The William B. Carlin Trust and the family of William B. Carlin.

NPS Photo

Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919)
Foggy Morning
Oil on canvas
ca. 1907–1910

A black and white photo of a group of men standing in a forest.
Volunteers working in the Weir Preserve, 1978. Photograph by Doris Andrews.
Left to Right: Malcolm Brooks, Robert Faesy, Jim Coleman, Jennet Shelley, Nancy Faesy, Lindley Voekwein, Richard Faesy, Geoffery Baker, Charles Jacobs, Sperry Andrews.

Courtesy Weir Farm Art Alliance and Carol and Robert Russell Wilton History Room, Wilton Library.

The Weir-Leary-White Preserve

Cora Weir Burlingham’s gift to the Nature Conservancy sparked the beginning of the Preserve’s growth and purpose. Additional land gifts from Eugenia Slaughter in memory of George Leary; Geoffrey and Elizabeth Baker in memory of Anna White; Robert Geffen; Elsie French; Helen Littauer; and Charles Lokey increased the preserve to 110 acres. The Weir Preserve Management Committee, mobilized by Doris Andrews, volunteered to do the physical labor of managing a nature preserve by cutting trails, mowing fields, and repairing stone walls. By 1979, the committee adopted bylaws, wrote a management plan, coordinated educational programs, and inventoried flora and fauna in the Preserve. In 2005, the Nature Conservancy transferred ownership of the Weir Preserve to the Weir Farm Trust, now the Weir Farm Art Alliance. Today, the Stewardship Committee of the Weir Preserve in partnership with Weir Farm National Historical Park, remains committed to the conservation efforts initiated by Cora Weir Burlingham and her son William Carlin.


Last updated: May 27, 2023

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