This 21-acre tract of land in the town of Mansfield, stretching from Browns Road to Schoolhouse Brook Park, was deeded to Joshua’s Trust by Katherine and Hamilton Holt. The Holts, better known as Kay and Tony, have long been members of the Trust and are active in numerous civic projects.
To Kay Holt, who grew up on the property, “every rock has some special meaning,” and there are lots of rocks, which along with the deep sand deposits document the glacial forces that shaped the area. Rocks are also featured in the walls that mark the old boundaries of pasture and wood lots, stretching up from Rt. 195.
The parcel which the Holts have given to the Trust is part of a large holding acquired over a number of years by Kay’s parents, Dr. Kenneth Kinney and Claire Calnen Kinney. Originally from Iowa, Dr. Kinney practiced as a physician in North Dakota during the Depression, traveling to the remote homes of his patients on a horse called “Hard Knocks” and getting paid with potatoes. He came east to study radiology at Harvard and was then recruited to Connecticut by Dr. Edward Ottenheimer, who was staffing the recently built Windham Hospital. Dr. Kinney served as radiologist for much of Eastern Connecticut until his death in 1957.
The L-shaped parcel acquired by the Trust is largely wooded, although a part of the land along Brown’s Road was known locally as the “six-acre meadow” and was rich with blueberries when Kay was growing up. Walking into the woods, one finds a double stone wall whose original purpose remains a mystery. A stand of pine dates back to the 1938 hurricane. Further along visitors will find Chapin Brook. Tracks of deer and wild turkey are abundant. The property is known as the Holt-Kinney Woods, which not only recognizes the recent owners but reflects the Old English definition of “holt,” a wooded hill.
In 2016, Katherine Holt generously donated a second parcel of 20 acres. The newly donated parcel abuts the easterly boundary of the original parcel. It includes a hidden meadow, rolling woodlands and a picturesque stream.
The Holt trail connects to the Bird Loop Trail in the Town of Mansfield’s Schoolhouse Brook park see Mansfield’s Parks and Recreation map page. This map primarily shows Schoolhouse Brook trails but also indicates adjoining trail systems. Two other Trust properties, the Harriet E. Babcock Preserve and Wolf Rock are close by. Other nearby trails are Mansfield’s Sawmill Brook Preserve and the famous Nipmuck Trail.
Mansfield Center, CT
Katherine and Hamilton Holt
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The preserve is located in Mansfield Center on Browns Road, which starts just north of the intersection of Route 195 and Route 89. To access the preserve, travel almost 0.5 mile up the hill on Browns Rd., past the Congregational church and along an extraordinarily stone wall (the Dewing Wall completed in 1884). There is limited parking along the right (or north) side of Browns Rd. at the entrance of the Holt Trail.