Whitey Helst Park

An integral part of the UConn-Stamford footprint within the City of Stamford is our park. We’re extremely proud of this aspect of our campus as it provides a respite from classes and studying for our staff, students and faculty. We’re a proud member of Stamford Arts Community. Our outdoor park and sculpture as well as our indoor Art Gallery, are representative of that pride. Park details:


Location: University of Connecticut, Stamford Campus, corner of Broad Street and Franklin Street, downtown Stamford

Collection: Connecticut Office of the Arts / DECD; Public Art Sites — Art in Public Spaces Program

Artist: Jim Sanborn; best known for creating the encrypted Kryptos sculpture at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Installation: Installed, 1999

Sculpture name: Rippawam

Materials: Rolled copper, Native American texts with English translation

Sculpture Size: 6′ x 26′ x 4′

Additional Description: A bronze sculpture is located within a mini-park designed by Jim Sanborn that links Stamford’s past and its future. A walkway edged by massive granite slabs is suggestive of the name given to the city by early indigenous peoples: Rippowam, or “Cliff of Rocks.” The serpentine bronze screen contains a passage from Native American lore in English, the Algonquin language, and the binary “language” of computers.


Park Naming history: The Park is named in honor of L.C. “Whitey” Heist, who led the initiative to establish the downtown University of Connecticut Stamford Campus. He was President of Champion International Corporation (which is now part of International Paper) — a Stamford-based corporation that believed companies had a responsibility to its community — and supported myriad community efforts–as well as corporate voluntarism. It was a great company — and Whitey was dedicated to both UConn and Stamford Hospital (he was board President of the hospital too).

Materials: Environmental sculpture in granite

Park size: 300′ x 100′ park area

Concept: Public Art designed to give tribute to Native American settlements in the area. During the 17th and 18th Centuries the State of Connecticut was “purchased” from its Native American inhabitants.  The piece of land on which this park sits was called Rippowam (cliff of rocks) in the Algonquin language.  The absurdly small amount of cash and/or curious objects traded for these lands are listed in sandblasted strips of text on the polished granite slabs which form part of this “mini park”. The difficulties the Indians had with the colonial interlopers is elegantly stated in an Algonquin document called the Mashpee Petition 1751.  This text with its binary conversion and its English translation is the content of the serpentine copper screen adjacent to the park.

Picture of primary sculpture

Original concept illustration

Original artist’s proposal