10 Things To Love About Litchfield, Conn.
By Joseph Montebello
The bucolic town of Litchfield, Conn. brings to life one’s image of the perfect New England town. In actuality the town encompasses the boroughs of Litchfield, Bantam, Milton and Northfield, all with their own unique offerings. Litchfield is the largest village and offers an array of activities and places to eat, shop and stimulate the senses.
1. The Green The strip of businesses on West Street (and in Cobble Court) worth checking out includes fashionable boutiques for men and women, R. Derwin Clothiers, Workshop; accessories shops Oliphant and Blueprint Ct; Lawrence Jeffrey Estate Jewelers and Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. It also offers restaurants at every price point: West Street Grill, Ollie’s, DiFranco’s, The Village and @The Corner. In the summer months concerts are offered on the Green, inviting everyone to spread their blankets, eat and enjoy a variety of free music.
2. Midcentury Marvels Thanks to Rufus Stillman, a local manufacturer who revered modernist Marcel Breuer, Litchfield boasts Breuer Houses of varying sizes. All have been painstakingly restored and are immaculate in detail. In addition, Breuer designed two Litchfield public schools as well as the Bantam town hall — all worth a visit. The town also has houses built by Breuer contemporaries John M. Johansen and Eliot Noyes. Have a look at the Oliver Wolcott Library as well where Eliot Noyes masterfully designed a modern addition onto an 18th-century historic house.
3. Movie Mania The Bantam Cinema began life as The Rivoli in 1927 and is said to be Connecticut’s oldest continuously operated movie house. In 1990 it was renamed, and over the years, through various owners, the cinema has survived and now has two screens. In 2013, the Cinema completely modernized the projection and sound systems, replacing 35mm film projectors with a state-of-the-art digital system. Still reminiscent of the iconic art cinemas in New York City, it continues to show first-run movies and selected HBO documentaries.
4. Communing with Nature White Memorial Conservation Center and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy are but two of the popular nature resources Litchfield has to offer. LRWC houses one of the largest and most diverse collections of waterfowl in North America and maintains a flock of more than 80 species totaling 500-plus birds. LRWC is open during the spring through fall, providing visitors the chance to learn about waterfowl, wetlands and the efforts to conserve them. The White Memorial Foundation has 40 miles of trails that cover various habitats. They are open to the public and free of charge for various recreations including hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The White Memorial Boardwalk is a 1.9-mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features beautiful wildflowers and is a favorite spot for pet owners to walk their dogs or for anyone who enjoys hiking, walking, nature trips or birding.
5. Litchfield History Museum & Reeve House & Law School Located just off The Green, these two buildings house the history of Litchfield. The museum presents the evolution of a small New England town through exhibitions of clothing, household objects and paintings from the earliest European settlement to present time. Across the street is the original building in which Tapping Reeve, an American lawyer and law educator, established a legal practice in 1744 and started the first law school in America.
6. Epicurean Delights Foodies will delight in discovering the Dutch Epicure Shop and sampling the array of treats including imported cheeses and products not found anywhere else. The homemade cakes, pastries and prepared foods are irresistible. The Litchfield Candy Company has something to please everyone’s sweet tooth, including chocolate-dipped cherries, chocolate-covered pretzels and every other chocolate item you can imagine. Brightly colored confections abound, and the shop offers gift baskets. Peaches ‘n’ Cream has been serving up the most extraordinary ice cream at its small shop for more than 35 years. It’s made on the premises from natural ingredients and stuffed into yummy handmade waffle cones.
7. Everything Arethusa Even if you don’t drink milk, you’ll want to visit Arethusa Farm and see the prize-winning cows that supply some of the most delicious milk in this part of the country, and witness the fastidious and impeccable environs in which they live. From there, stop at Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam and sample their delicious ice creams, yogurt and cheeses. For a quick snack or breakfast, walk across to Arethusa a Mano and treat yourself to homemade salads, and freshly made breads and bagels. End your day by having dinner at the epitome of fine dining, Arethusa al Tavolo, with offers both impeccable food and service.
8. Artisans Abound Guy Wolff and his son Ben are both renowned potters, with their own artistry and style. Both are favorites of Martha Stewart and their studios are chock full of things to admire and to purchase. No matter what you want in the way of tiles, it can be found at Bantam Tileworks. Designers Travis Messinger and Darin Ronning create amazing tiles for every use from shower walls to backsplashes and floors. They also make beautiful vases, cups and other decorative pieces.
9. In Bloom For over 60 years White Flower Farm has been offering a wide range of ornamental plant varieties. Explore the many rows of horticulture treasures and garden accessories. A well-educated staff is there to answer questions and make suggestions.
10. Small Batchers The Baker Brothers started Litchfield Distillery with a commitment to distill the finest spirits in small batches, making use of the best ingredients offered by local farmers. From the initial bourbon offerings, they now offer several vodkas as well as other spirits. Take a tour of their pristine facilities and sample some for yourself.
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