Tag Archives: Pearl Wakeman

Trimming The Wakeman Tree

This Saturday at 5 p.m. — right after the Wakeman Town Farm/Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens Christmas tree and greenery sale — everyone in town is invited to a Christmas tree lighting. There’s a bonfire and hot chocolate too.

It’s billed as the “1st annual” event. But really, trees have been lit at the Town Farm on Cross Highway for years.

Let Bill Constantino — a 1986 Staples grad — tell the tale:

The Wakeman Farm.

First my great-grandparents, then my grandparents Ike and Pearl Wakeman, owned Wakeman Farms. They served Connecticut and New York for a very long time.

Granted I’m only 44, but the traditions and family values that have been ingrained in me will be passed on to my girls and their families for generations.

I have countless memories of “The Farm.” Many years ago we started a tradition of lighting the hemlock tree on the corner of the driveway. It started one night about 2 weeks after Thanksgiving with my grandparents and various uncles, aunts and cousins who decided to decorate the tree on the side of the house.

We wanted to light up the sky, and allow our family and friends to see this beautiful tree when they came by to visit over the holidays.

The Wakemans’ tree, years ago. (Photo courtesy of Bill Constantino)

The tree wasn’t as big as it is today. Nevertheless, when we started, we didn’t have enough lights. So my grandmother, mother and aunts ran to every store in the area to gather enough lights to go around the tree.

That, of course, left my grandfather, father, uncles and cousins to talk about anything and everything. They traded stories about “The Farm.” It was a great family bonding experience.

Over the years, different family and friends have decorated the tree. Sometimes we contacted the Westport News. They took pictures of the lit tree, and put it on the front page of the paper.

For me, the tree symbolizes remembrance of generations of our family, friends and customers who have worked, purchased or just stopped in to see the “family” at Wakeman Farm.

Now the torch has passed to the newly extended Wakeman Town Farm family. There are new traditions to be forged, certainly…but with some old traditions to be honored as well.

It’s the next best thing my grandparents, mother and family would have wanted.


Pearl Wakeman, 1919-2009

Pearl Wakeman, who with her late husband Ike operated Wakemans Farm on Cross Highway, died yesterday at 90.

The family’s 121-year-old farmhouse was a vesitge of old New England.  As reported on WestportNow.com, longtime Westporter Chip Stephens remembers buying a dozen ears of corn — or a stack of wood — for $2, and ordering Thanksgiving turkeys that were killed a few yards away.  Pearl and Ike, Chip said, were green long before it was in vogue.

I remember the Wakemans for allowing the town to use their land for open land, at a crucial time in Westport’s development.

The Wakemans could have subdivided their property for building lots — and commanded a handsome price.  It was an option many longtime Westporters chose.

The Wakemans did not want to see their farm close.  But because of their generosity and foresight that large plot of land remains open space – and athletic fields — enjoyed by hundreds of Westporters every day.  Their farmhouse still stands, at the entrance to what is now known, properly, as Wakeman Park.

The next time you’re there for a game, a run or a nice dog-walk, think of — and thank — Ike and Pearl Wakeman.  They were two of a kind.