Cutter built a gothic revival mansion on the site where the Italian garden house (also known as the Teahouse) now stands and two large barns and a carriage house that still serve as office and garage for the park's caretakers. Wildwood changed hands a couple of times before becoming the property of the Watson family, whose stewardship from 1860 to 1909 visited many changes on the park.
A southern slave owner whose fortunes changed dramatically after the war, Henry Watson made Wildwood the permanent home for himself and his wife and six children. They set about improving Wildwood, planting fruit trees and vegetables, preserving trees, and planting gardens. When Watson died in 1891, four of the Watson children remained at Wildwood, which had become the social and cultural center of Northampton with literary evenings, receptions, and dances. When the four Watsons sold Wildwood in 1909 to two local developers, it remained empty for several years and fell into disrepair. But on October 8, 1915, Charles Childs, vice president of an Easthampton textile company, and his wife Annie purchased the first 20 acres of Wildwood, and within three years they had purchased the entire 40 acres.
For the next 32 years, the Childses indulged their love of horticulture and developed the park extensively. Charles Childs died in 1932, and when her will was read at Annie Childs' death in 1950 it was discovered that the park would remain a private park under the management of a charitable corporation to be known as the Childs Park Foundation Inc., but that it would continue to be open to public use.
The residents of Northampton and
others have continued to enjoy and treasure the park in the years since
Annie Childs' death, and the year 2000 marks the 50th anniversary of the
founding of the park as we know it today. A special commemorative booklet
will be published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette during the anniversary
year, and other events are being planned. But the best way to celebrate
the park is to sit on a tucked-away bench or stroll leisurely among the
fragrant pines, secure in the knowledge that the far-away sounds of
traffic and city activity cannot disturb this little Eden.