Have you ever wondered…Who was Cornelia Warren?

Content contributed by Ambassador Girl Scout and GSEMA museum volunteer Aviva and GSEMA museum volunteer Betty MacKenzie

A new website, created by recent graduate of Gann Academy, Aviva, went live July 19th.  CorneliaWarren.WordPress.com is all about Cornelia Warren, who many believe to be one of Waltham’s greatest citizens. 

Aviva learned about Cornelia Warren in a high school history class and was inspired by her life. Aviva is a lifetime Girl Scout, and started as a Brownie. Although her troop visited Cedar Hill, and learned about the history of Girl Scouts, Aviva had never heard of Cornelia Warren prior to her Gann history class. Aviva said that she “was upset to find that so little information was readily available about Cornelia, and determined I would do something about this.” Aviva started this first-ever Cornelia Warren website in the fall of 2019. Working on a website during a pandemic has its challenges, but many people responded to requests for help and information. 

Aviva connected with an informal group of women in Waltham, who were also researching Cornelia Warren, aware that 2021 was the centennial of Cornelia’s death (in 1921). One of these women, Dee Kricker, is a long-time enthusiast and researcher of Cornelia. She made a presentation for the Waltham Historical Society in May of 2021 ” A Look Back at Cornelia Warren 100 Years After Her Death”. It was well-attended and is available to watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSbVRcc4Nf0

Another woman who began corresponding with Aviva about her project was Betty MacKenzie, a volunteer at the Girl Scout Museum (part of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts). “When I became involved with the Girl Scouts and Camp Cedar Hill, Cornelia began popping up everywhere. I wanted to know more.” said Betty. “As we began to share articles and new discoveries about Cornelia’s life, Dee, Aviva and I were amazed. Now, all of us can enjoy learning about this remarkable woman on this new website.” 

You can dive into Cornelia’s life on the website, and learn how she used her home, Cedar Hill, in Waltham, Mass. for community gatherings. People in the Waltham area might be aware of her hedge maze, which was open to the public four days a week. Less well-known might have been the bowling alley she installed, for the special enjoyment of children. A fascinating page of the website is devoted to the successful dairy at Cedar Hill, where Cornelia pioneered safe milk production practices, helping to prevent illnesses and deaths from bad milk, common at the time. Besides her work in Waltham and Boston, other parts of the website highlight Cornelia’s involvement in Westbrook, Maine, and how she improved life there.

An Activities section of the website will be of interest to children. They can do these on their own or with family, do them at camp, with their troop, or in school, or challenge their friends. “Make your own maze” might be a favorite, included in the “Family or Group Activity” hand-out.

In a series of maps, you can see the boundaries of the Warren Estate, and the land’s uses today, where one can find the Girl Scouts’ Camp Cedar Hill, Gann Academy, Bentley University dormitories, the City of Waltham’s Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex, Cornelia Warren Park, Forest Street Park, and Waltham Woods. In addition, Cornelia’s trustees gave 75 acres to Girl Scouts (now known as the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts). They also gave 58 acres to Massachusetts for its agricultural college, today, known as UMass Amherst. The Field Station part of the property (the south side of Beaver Street) is being bought by the City of Waltham, and houses the Waltham Fields Community Farm and the Waltham Land Trust, among other organizations. The north part of the property, known as Lawrence Meadow, will continue to be owned by UMass Amherst. 

Every year, for the last 100 years, thousands of people visit and enjoy the approximately 200 acres of Cornelia Warren’s home. How many know of her legacy? They can find out about her, or find out more, on this new website.

Please visit CorneliaWarren.WordPress.com, and share it with others, so we can work together to keep Cornelia’s memory alive. 

About the Authors: Aviva is lifetime Girl Scout, and is heading off to UMass Amherst in the fall. She is now part of Girl Scout Museum volunteers, and is hoping to stay active with the museum. Betty is an active Girl Scout and leads many stewardship efforts at Camp Cedar Hill and the Girl Scout Museum. If you would like to contact Aviva or Betty, they can be reached at corneliawarren21@gmail.com.

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