'An Afternoon with Ethel' celebrates renaissance of Barckley Park

Milford. As they noshed on cakes and sipped "Ethel's Elixir," guests heard the history of a woman whose legacy continues to make Milford an extraordinarily beautiful place.

Sep 18 2019 | 01:02 PM

The event was advertised as a “tea" -- but there was no tea in sight.

Instead, attendees of the Milford Garden Club's “An Afternoon with Ethel” were treated to wine and “Ethel’s Elixir,” an excellent libation created to honor Ethel Noyes Barckley. It was prepared with champagne, Old Tom’s Gin, St. Germain liquor, and lemon-flavored sparkling water.

An extensive selection of delicious cakes and pastries were also served at the Sept. 7 event, held at St. Patrick’s Hall. It paid tribute to Barckley while raising funds for continued improvements at the park named in 1975 in her honor.

Barckley Park is situated at the end of Ann Street and overlooks the scenic Delaware River. Once colloquially known as "Green Swing Park," it now has stately stone pillars emblazoned with its new name and, in its center, two decorative pagodas. The park has a swing seat and other seating for anyone seeking peace and inspiration. It's a wonderful setting for quiet contemplation and for admiring nature’s beauty in all seasons. A privacy fence is being installed along one side.

Guest Phyllis Fernandez donated some money for a picnic bench in memory of her brother James Fernandez, who died four years ago.

“He lived here many, many years and always wanted to be by the river," she said. "It’s a perfect view. The picnic bench is going to be located where you can see right down the river, which is something he would have loved. From the time he was about 19 until he died, he always gravitated to Milford. He loved it. This was home. He was a merchant seaman, so he was out a lot, but he always came back here.”

The guest of honor was William Tuscano, Barckley’s step-grandson and the grandson of her husband, Dr. William Barckley. He left Milford when he was 11.

“I’m happy I came," he said, adding that he has a lot of good memories of the place. "I kept thinking about Milford and I decided I would come."

Linda Pinto, president of the Milford Garden Club, emceed the event. She spoke about Barckley as an extraordinary woman who contributed much to Milford and its history. She was an artist, a writer, and an activist who added greatly to Milford's beautification.

Councilwoman Annette Haar presented an overview and update on the park project in a slide presentation. Also in attendance were Pike County Commissioner Matthew Osterberg and Milford Borough Council President Frank Tarquinio.

“It’s a really wonderful event for the borough," said Osterberg. "It’s special when we take parks that are named after women who put such great efforts into this borough, even if it is 80 or 90 or 100 years ago. And it’s a thrill to have her grandson here with us to celebrate this. This is what Milford is about — volunteerism. It’s about the garden club, it’s about the borough council, it’s about the county — just all coming together to make this a real special place.”

The renaissance of a park

The park "has always been a very special place for my husband and me,” said Pinto. “On Sunday mornings, we’d get some pastries and coffee and we’d go down there. It’s a very serene, calming, beautiful bucolic place. You can see the river, the eagles. It was just a very special place.”

She said her husband, Ralph, recognized the park's potential. He kept telling her, "You really should do something."

After meeting with Haar, who is also the borough's parks chair, the two realized some funding was available. Pinto applied for a matching grant from the Pike County Scenic Rural Character Preservation Program for improvements. The grant was administered through the borough, which was delighted to partner in the project.

“That award, together with several generous contributions, enabled us to create the Park," said Pinto.

Other contributors included The Greater Pike Foundation; Verizon's TCCGives; the Borough of Milford; the Milford Garden Club; and other local donors.

Haar said that this year the borough council acquired that portion of East Ann Street from homeowners Lynn Anne Walsh and Adrienne Wesol, whose property flanked both sides of that portion of East Ann Street.

“Consequently, we were able to double the size of the park and give it a sense of entry, intrigue, and visibility as one drives down Ann Street," she said. "Barckley Park is now the largest of Milford’s seven little parks -- all meticulously groomed and cared for by the Milford Garden Club."

The event also included a sneak preview of a first edition book titled “Into the Garden" by Christian Peltenburg-Brechneff. Marta Hallett, publisher of Glitterati Editions, offered copies for purchase. It includes illustrations of his plein air paintings and thoughts about 200 hidden gardens from around the world.

“His paintings capture some of the most exquisite yet private gardens around the globe,” Hallett said.

The author will visit Milford in October.

The Milford Garden Club and Barckley Park continue to make Milford an extraordinarily beautiful place. For more information or to inquire about making a donation, email milfordgarden@gmail.com or write to the Milford Garden Club, P.O. Box 764, Milford, PA 18337.

About Ethel Noyes Barckley
Ethel Noyes Barckley was born on April 23, 1871, to Edward and Eleanor Noyes. She was raised in Milford in the house (still standing) at 107 East Ann Street. An upper room was redesigned to give the budding artist a studio, and a skylight was added.
In 1902, while serving as a Sunday school teacher, she drew the design for the window of “The Virgin Mary in a Field of Lilies,” crafted by J.&R. Lamb and installed in what is now Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. The window was saved from a fire in 1913 that destroyed the original church.
Ethel was listed as a landscape artist in the 1910 census. Around 1927, she married Dr. Robert G. Barckley, a general practice physician in Milford who died in 1936.
Barckley was one of the founding members of the Milford Garden Club in April 1937. She served as president from 1947 to 1948, and again from 1954 to 1955.
She was the first secretary of the Pike County Historical Society, and, in 1919, organized and served as first regent of the Gettysburg Chapter, Daughters of the Union. In 1920 she wrote “Women of the Mayflower,” in which she discussed the importance and significance of women in the early settlement and provided a history of their works and accomplishments. She was a member of the Colonial Dames of America and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
She was a charter member of the Milford Community House and served on the board from 1923 to 1950.
Barckley helped establish the Village Improvement Association, which partnered with the borough to keep Milford beautiful.
In 1954, she was named Pike County Woman of the Year.