Walden Pond Visitor Center

Photo courtesy of Like Success

Photo courtesy of Like Success

Jessica Gavin and Julia Wachtel

On Tuesday, September 27th, the new Visitor Center at Walden Pond had its Grand Opening Ceremony. Local journalists and nature lovers as well as influential members of the DCR, DCAMM, and Walden Advisory Board committees all came together for the ribbon cutting to signify the opening of the brand new, 6000 square foot center.


The new visitor center boasts some incredible environmentally-conscious designs that are both beautiful and resource-conserving. Much of the furniture within the center was created from the wood that was cut down in order to clear land for the building, and the rest of the wood used was local heat treated wood as opposed to rainforest lumber. Large windows allow for a “daylighting strategy” which ensures that sunlight is being used to illuminate the building during daylight hours instead of artificial light. These windows also allow for cross ventilation that will cut down on the number of days that air conditioning will need to be used. They are triple paned, and, coupled with the extra insulation inside of the building, they will trap heat in the winter and keep it out in the summer. All of these specifications have led to the building achieving LEED Gold Status as well as being certified by the Forest Stewardship.


This sustainable, $7.2 million dollar building will be heavily used by Walden Pond’s reported 500,000 visitors per year. Called the “best swimming hole west of Boston” by Commissioner Leo Roy, Walden Pond boasts one of Massachusetts’ most desirable parks. Known for its environmentalist roots, the commissioner also mentioned the impressive solar canopy in the parking lot that generates more electricity than the building needs within a year, as well as more accessibility and safety features to ensure visitors can travel leisurely around the area.


DCAMM Commissioner Carol Gladstone took the podium next, talking about the importance of ongoing stewardship to keep the grounds up so that visitors new and old alike will be able to explore and appreciate the grounds for years to come. She is quite optimistic, stating that the pond is “Standing on the shoulders of giants”; hardworking committees and donors who have shown time and time again that they want to better the area. She stated that the project “takes a village” and after 26 years of production, it is no wonder the town of Concord is proud of the building.


One of the crowd favorites, Don Henley, took the stage short after Commissioner Gladstone. He was excited to address the building, a project that has manifested through his dedicated work to Walden Pond. Don Henley, member of the eighties band the Eagles, has been the board of the Walden Woods project for over twenty years. As a fan of Thoreau, Henley announced “we will be sharing his legacy with hundreds of thousands of visitors a year”. He also went on to publicize an upcoming film dedicated to Walden Pond, with the acclaimed Ken Burns as executive producer.


One of Massachusetts environmentally conscious senators, Senator Michael Barrett, was introduced next. He talked ambitiously about plans to make the state the first in the nation to put a price on carbon emissions, and cited Walden Pond as the birthplace of American environmentalism. Thoreau’s meticulous notes about the plants and surroundings around the pond helped scientists today determine and prove climate change, and Senator Barrett was extremely proud of the new center and the environmental legacy it carried.
Following the ribbon cutting, there was a celebration in and around the visitor center sponsored by donations from the Friends of Walden Pond. Many frequent visitors were excited to see the famous Thoreau impersonator, who greeted guests on the tour of the new building. Through Thoreau’s writings, and the dedicated support for Walden Pond, citizens around the world can view the historical landmark. The visitor center is at the heart of the national reservation, and insures a new way to teach Thoreau for generations to come.