Day Trips: Pomfret, once home to elegant sumer cottages

Published on Friday, 16 February 2018 22:48
Written by Marty Podskoch

Pomfret is a truly rural town in the northeastern corner of the state. Only a generation ago there were literally more cows than people in town. Most of the dairy farms have closed and the development rights to several thousand acres of that land have been purchased through cooperation between the town, the state, and several conservation organizations ensuring that the town will retain its rural character. Our public school goes only through grade eight, we have a volunteer fire department, no police department, no town water or sewer.

The first Europeans came to Pomfret in the late 1600s and the Town Hall still has the original deed between Owaneco, the son of Uncas, “the last of the Mohicans,” and Major James Fitch in its vault. Major Fitch resold the land in 1686 to twelve “proprietors,” primarily folks from Boston, some of whom settled here while others sold the land again. By 1713 Pomfret had grown enough to support a congregation whose members appealed to the colonial legislature for incorporation. In 2013 the annual town meeting, celebrating the 300th anniversary of incorporation, was held in the building (not the original) now used by the successors of that original congregation.

For many years Pomfret was home to subsistence farmers and small mill owners who sawed the timber and ground the grain produced on the local farms. General stores and post offices sprang up and five villages were founded within the town, Pomfret, Pomfret Center, Abington, Pomfret Landing, and Elliott. Following the Civil War, a railroad line connecting Boston to New York was completed and caused a major change in the character of the town. The rolling hills of Pomfret, and rumors of health giving properties of local waters, attracted wealthy families from Boston and New York who built elegant summer “cottages” which were the scene of glamorous summer parties and a source of employment for local families. Some of these mansions still exist as private homes or as parts of private schools.

In the mid-20th century transportation again changed the character of Pomfret as the construction of Route 52, now I-395 and the other parts of the Interstate system, connected the town to surrounding cities so that residents could commute to work in Providence, Hartford, New London, and Worcester, and Pomfret became a bedroom community as well as a haven for retirees searching for a quiet relaxed life style.

Interesting places

The quiet life continues and a visitor to Pomfret can enjoy outdoor recreation activities at:

Mashamoquet State Park. Visit “Wolf’s Den” where Israel Putnam shot the last wolf in CT. Offers hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming for the whole family. 147 Wolf Den Drivesssss, Pomfret Center. http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325238&deepNav_GID=1650

The Connecticut Audubon Center at Pomfret. Open daily, year-round, from dawn to dusk. 218 Day Road, Pomfret Center. https://www.ctaudubon.org/pomfret-home/

Wyndham Land Trust. Ten preserves in Pomfret for walks. http://www.wyndhamlandtrust.org/preserves/preserves_pomfret.html

Airline Trail. Follows the route of the former railroad. Map at http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/air_line_trail_north_pomfret.pdf

After a few hours of hiking, fishing in season, or exploring the wolf den, lunch can be obtained at:

Vanilla Bean Café. Where Coca Cola introduced a new flavor, Vanilla Coke, to the world on May 15, 2002. 450 Deerfield Road, intersection of Routes. 44 and 97. http://www.thevanillabeancafe.com/cafe/

Grill 37. 37 Putnam Road, Pomfret. http://www.grill37.com/home.html

Pizza 101. 16A Mashamoquet Road, Pomfret Center. https://www.facebook.com/Pizza101Pomfret/

The Bakers Dozen. Coffee shop and bakery. 24 Mashamoquet Road. https://www.bakersdozenct.com/menu

The campuses of two noted independent schools, Pomfret School and Rectory School, which attract students from around the world, are along Route 44 in the center of town. Also, along Route 44 is Christ Church, which has a number of stained glass windows as well as a baptismal font attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Walter Hinchman, Pomfret town historian and member of the Pomfret Historical Society

This is an excerpt from the book, The Connecticut 169 Club: Your Passport & Guide to Adventure. It was written by local residents to encourage people to visit the beautiful 169 towns & cities in Connecticut. The 8.5 x 11 hardcover book contains 368 pages and over 180 illustrations, maps, and photos. It was edited by Marty Podskoch, author of eight books including the Conn. Civilian Conservation Corps Camps, Catskill & Adirondack fire towers, Adk CCC Camps, Adk 102 Club, and Adk illustrated stories. The travel book will be available in late summer 2018. One can pre-order a signed book with free shipping by sending $24.95 plus CT sales tax $1.58 to: Podskoch Press, 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424 Also available in late summer 2018 at local stores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Information (860)267-2442 podskoch@comcast.net



Posted in The Bristol Press, General News on Friday, 16 February 2018 22:48. Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018 22:50.