Active clubs, like active people, have a present and a past. The past for the Nutmeg Curling Club includes not only the more than 400 years of tradition and sportsmanship associated with the game, but also the dedication and enthusiasm of a group of curlers from the St. Andrews Club in Hastings-on-Hudson and some ‘newcomers’ who helped organize the Nutmeg club in 1960 and brought curling to southwestern Connecticut. The first organizational meeting of this group was held on April 11, 1960. The original planning began with Ted Bartlett, Laurence Achilles and a group of ten other men. This organizational committee officially became the Nutmeg Curling Club the following fall.
In the Beginning
Under first club president Ted Bartlett a group of 23 curlers (the "Founders") leased the ice every Monday night from the Crystal Ice Palace (now defunct) in Norwalk, Connecticut, taking over late in the evening after the hockey players had dispersed. The ice was dressed, pebbled, circles drawn with paint and a string, and the hacks warmed on the coffee warmer prior to sinking them into the ice. From the inception of the Club, the intent was to find a permanent home with a dedicated ice facility. After two years there were enough members to start an active search for a permanent home. By the 1961-62 season the membership reached 60 curling in 4 men's and 4 mixed rinks. With the tremendous budget of $2,125 in hand, talks began with Edgar Auchincloss, Chairman of the Board of the Country Club of Darien, who wanted a winter activity for the Club. Discussion went on for over a year before the red letter day of July 19, 1963, when a contract between the two clubs was signed. A. Roland “Bob” Will, one of the founding members and President at the time of the signing, remained active in Nutmeg activities long enough to have thrown the first stone at the opening of the current facility.
Curling in Darien
The two men who were the driving force behind the club were Ted Bartlett who died in 1966 and Laurence Achilles after whom one of the club's in-house championships is named. Ted's widow, Anita Bartlett White, donated much of the warm room furniture in memory of Ted. She herself curled well into her 90's and sponsored many events. Nutmeg curled at the Darien facility until 1998 when the club lost its lease. During that time, curlers from Nutmeg went to Olympic trials, won regional championships and went to the Nationals.
Every year, Nutmeg had its own prestigious bonspiel, hosting curlers from far and wide.
Wandering the Wilderness
Ms. White must have been prescient. On her death, her estate passed to the Nutmeg Curling Club and became the seed money to build a new club after losing the rink in Darien. With individual members devoting extraordinary amounts of time on a voluntary basis, a massive fundraising effort began. Other members became experts almost overnight in land use policy, zoning regulations and the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining a curling club. During this time, Nutmeggers continued to practice their sport, many traveling to Westchester County to curl on a regular basis. Members continued to excel, two of them being on a team that won a bronze medal at the senior Worlds. In 2004 after 6 years intensive searches and countless unpaid hours of work, the Club signed a lease with the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport, CT.
Nutmeg in Wonderland
The manager of Wonderland of Ice, Lisa Fedick, had heard of our search for space in which to build a new club in southwestern Connecticut and contacted Nutmeg about the possibility of joining her in Bridgeport where she was building a second ice skating rink and re-furbishing the existing hockey rink. In October 2006, after hurdling all the familiar obstacles of building in Fairfield County, Nutmeg moved into its new home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Click HERE to see photos of building the club in Bridgeport.
Nutmeg now provides youth curling and a high school "league", as well as leagues for its regular member, As members of the Grand National Curling Club (GNCC- representing curling in the Northeast), the United States Curling Association (USCA) and United States Women's Curling Association (USWCA), Nutmeg members participate in many multi-club bonspiels in this country and Canada, as well as special intra-club events. Every spring Nutmeg hosts its own mixed bonspiel called The Golden Handle. Its many members continue to contribute their time and effort to maintain and build on the solid beginning the founders of the Nutmeg Curling Club established in the early 1960’s.
Nutmeg owes much to a group of imaginative and energetic founders who started the Nutmeg tradition and to a second group of imaginative and energetic group of curlers who kept the Nutmeg tradition alive. The energy of those in 1960 and in 2000 reflects the spirit which is inherent in curling worldwide. Nutmeg curlers still maintain the enthusiasm and camaraderie which is traditional to this ancient Scottish sport.
As Nutmeggers, “We’re Brithers and Sisters All”. GOOD CURLING!