A Holiday Gift Guide from Stonington Borough
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It’s time for merry-making and the ho-ho-holidays, and we’ve gathered some pretty great gift ideas from the merchants in Stonington Borough. We encourage you to shop small this holiday season, support your local businesses and buy from people you know!

Jingle jangle, now this is a bangle

A.K. Dasher Jewelry has an enormous selection of sterling silver and gemstone jewelry, but this bangle bracelet with a labradorite stone is a real showstopper. $98.50. 141 Water Street.

The girl with the pearl earring

Circle pearl earrings in white or pink, 8mm and 10mm are 20% off at Black Orchid Jewelers at 117 Water Street #1. Sale ends 12/31/18.

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A star is born

The Sunday dress from Smiling Button is the perfect party dress for your little one…and it’s made right here in New England. There’s also the “Letter from Santa Kit” for $30. Post your letter by December 15th and Mr. Claus himself will respond! Available at Bluebird Day Kids, 149 Water Street.

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Deck the halls and stuff your stocking

Carolyn Yost Estate Estate Jewelry & Stonington Antiques etc. has a selection of decorations and the best stocking stuffer ever — the Skin So Soft Wintersoft Collection with babassu oil, Shea butter and vitamin E.148 Water Street.

Momma needs a new pair of shoes

These pretty plum suede ankle boots are a steal at 40% OFF. Clad In Shoes and Clothing, 152 Water Street.

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Celebrate and decorate!

Whether you need to decorate your house or embellish your gifts with something extra special, check out the Stonington COMO Thrift Shop at 45 Cutler Street. They’ve got a great selection of ornaments and wreaths.

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Kiss the cook

There are so many incredible gift options at the Borough’s newest kitchen / market The COQ &CO., it’s hard to narrow it down to one. But nothing beats a great cookbook. 147 Water Street.

Holiday spirit(s)

Tackle your gift list and give back too. Tickets for Cove Ledge’s 3rd Annual Bourbon, Wine & Beer Fundraiser are on sale now. $35 and $50, cash and checks accepted in-store. 804 Stonington Road.

When the weather outside is frightening

Cozy cashmere scarves for him or her. $24.50 each or 5 for $100. Available at Fun Company, 71 Cutler Street.

The host with the most

The ultimate host delights in the details. Estate-worthy glassware, 20% off at Grand & Water Antiques, 135 Water Street.

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Warm and fuzzy

The Hungry Palette has a fun selection of wool-fleece hats and mittens, hand-knitted in Nepal. They’re also fair trade. $23.50 for hats, $19.50 for mittens. 105 Water Street.

Fine jewelry with a coastal flair

The Compass Rose Collection pendant, available in sterling silver or 14K with longitude and latitude of Stonington. Shown with rose cut black diamond, starting at $160.

Maggie Lee Designs, 135 Water Street, back porch entrance.

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What every coffee lover wants

REALLY GOOD COFFEE of course. Social Coffee Roastery has your gift waiting for you: a bag of espresso and two espresso cups. $25. There are also gift cards available. 117 Water Street.

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Pom poms and cashmere

Girly girls love soft, furry things and Tucci Design has the prettiest cashmere blend and faux fur pom pom scarves and ponchos that are soft AND furry! There a number of colors to choose from and they’re all so gorgeous it’s hard to decide. 120 Water Street.

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Beautiful textiles make beautiful gifts

Wrap up one (or a set) of luxurious, organic cotton hand towels woven in Turkey. Yali Stonington online. $28 each.

 

Also part of Stonington Borough is the American Velvet Mill at 22 Bayview Avenue. The “Mill” as locals call it, is a thriving community of artists, entrepreneurs and small businesses. There’s art, unique crafts, fitness classes and health and healing services. If you can’t find a great gift (which would be impossible), there are a lot of businesses that offer gift certificates - great for stocking stuffers!

Nine In November
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Mark your calendars! Below are nine fun, exciting, interesting, intellectual, artistic and festive things to do in Stonington Borough during the month of November.

#1

11/2 Rollie McKenna Exhibit Opening & Book Launch

The Stonington Historical Society is hosting A Village Love Affair: Rollie McKenna’s Stonington exhibit opening and book launch at the R. W. Woolworth Library & Research Center. McKenna was known internationally for portraits of the arts and literary elite such as Leonard Bernstein, Alexander Calder, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Elliot, Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote and the architecture of Europe and Latin America. She lived in Stonington where she documented the history and culture of small town life and was part of a once-flourishing arts scene among artists such as the poet James Merrill, gardener and author Eleanor Perenyi and her mother, the novelist Grace Stone. 

#2

11/3 New England Science & Sailing Annual Benefit Gala

Join NESS for their 10th annual Benefit Gala at Haley Mansion in Mystic. The evening includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, dinner, live auction, paddle raise and dancing. Your gift helps build brighter futures and enables NESS to bring their inclusive ocean adventure programs to communities.

#3

11/5 Jordan Jacks Meet & Greet

On November 5, The Merrill House is hosting a Meet & Greet with their November-December fellow. Jacks is a writer from Texas, whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Yale Review, Weekday, Territory, and The Organist, the podcast from McSweeney’s/KCRW.

#4

11/9 Women Photographers of CT

On November 9, the La Grua Center is opening an exhibit of the talented female photographers of Connecticut. Women Photographers of Connecticut was envisioned by Geneva Renegar in 2015 as a creative endeavor to collectively bring together all the talented female photographers of our Nutmeg State. It has been a vision fulfilled as the group now comprises well over 360 women (and growing) who are located throughout all parts of the beautiful state of Connecticut.

#5

11/12 Noah’s Artisan Craft Sale

Noah’s Restaurant is hosting their third annual Artisan Craft Sale which showcases the many talents of their staff and a few special guests. Perfect for one-of-a-kind gifts and 10% of sales will be donated to a dear friend who is battling cancer.

#6

11/17 La Grua Center’s Tenth Annual Holiday Fine Arts & Crafts Sale

Get started on your holiday shopping! Ceramics, pottery, clothing, fine art, sculpture, jewelry and decorative home accessories are just a few of the things you’ll find at this event which is free and open to the public.

#7

11/24 Small Business Saturday in the Borough

Shop small and support your local merchants this holiday season. The Borough has a wonderful selection of art and antique shops, galleries, clothing, books, toys and gifts for kids, home accents and jewelry and each shop has their own Small Business Saturday special.  

#8

11/24 The American Velvet Mill Holiday Stroll

Dozens of vendors, food and drink, activities for the kids and festive entertainment marks the 2018 Holiday Stroll and 130 Year Anniversary Event for the Historic American Velvet Mill. Starting at 3 pm, the event will include a visit from Santa and the tree lighting. 

#9

11/25 Fall Sunday Music Series from 3 – 5 pm at Saltwater Farm Vineyard

Enjoy the music of Bob Lavalley as you sip wine, enjoy freshly shucked oysters from Mystic Oyster Co. and mingle with friends. Families and picnics are welcome!

Rollie McKenna - A Village Love Affair
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This Fall, The Stonington Historical Society will launch the Rollie McKenna Project — a book and exhibition about the life and work of the late Stonington-based photographer. 

McKenna was known internationally for portraits of the arts and literary elite such as Leonard Bernstein, Alexander Calder, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Elliot, Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote and the architecture of Europe and Latin America. She lived in Stonington where she documented the history and culture of small town life and was part of a once-flourishing arts scene among artists such as the poet James Merrill, gardener and author Eleanor Perenyi and her mother, the novelist Grace Stone. 

The exhibition titled A Village Love Affair, is set to open Friday, November 2, 2018 at the Richard W. Woolworth Library

Notable contributors of the project include American graphic designer and novelist Chip Kidd, who will design the book’s cover; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard who will write the book's introduction; and photographer (and Stonington Borough resident) Francis Hills, who will curate the exhibition.

A Borough Icon: The Elkanah Cobb House
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The Elkanah Cobb House on Water Street is perhaps one of the most photographed houses in the Borough. Dating to 1769, it’s one of the earliest examples of a gambrel roofed cottage and one of the oldest in the village. It’s one-and-a-half stories and has unusual 9-over-6 sash windows.

The house was owned by Elkanah Cobb (born 1781 in the house), which had been in his family for four generations. He lived there when the British attacked Stonington during the War of 1812 and died at the age of 37 after “experiencing the fear and anxiety attendant upon the partial destruction of his home by the British in 1814.”

According to The Homes of our Ancestors in Stonington, Conn., by Grace Denison Wheeler (1903), the house “stood in the thick of the fight near the [American] battery, and so has many scars received during the bombardment.”

Best Places to Propose in the Borough

Asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you is a moment you’ll never forget. They say timing is everything, but we think it’s also location, location, location! Stonington Borough is full of peaceful, picturesque spots so if you’re thinking of taking your relationship to the next level, consider one of these unforgettable options.

1.   Located at the end of Wall Street is Dodge Paddock & Beal Preserve. With the loveliest walking trail on an open salt marsh meadow filled with wildflowers and beach roses, there is a bench with the most beautiful view of Little Narragansett Bay. It’s usually quiet and peaceful, and perfect for a picnic lunch.

2.    Just 29 steps up a winding staircase and a short ladder to the top of the Tower in the Old Lighthouse Museum, you’ll be rewarded with a 360 degree view of three states that stretches to the Atlantic Ocean in an intimate space. Built in 1840, the Stonington Harbor Light has stood at the entrance to Stonington Harbor for more than 170 years. It’s only open seasonally (Thursday through Tuesday) so you must plan ahead. 

3.   A few steps down from the Old Lighthouse Musuem is the East Lawn at Stonington Point. It’s a well-known spot for beautiful sunsets and a perfect view of the sailboats in the harbor and two lighthouses — Latimer Reef and Watch Hill Light. 

 

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A Rail Line Ran Through It
 This map from 1851 shows the New York Boston & Providence Railroad line as it ran through the middle of Stonington Borough, out to New York Steam-Boat Pier, now the site of the current Town Dock.

This map from 1851 shows the New York Boston & Providence Railroad line as it ran through the middle of Stonington Borough, out to New York Steam-Boat Pier, now the site of the current Town Dock.

 

You wouldn’t know it now, but during the 19th-century, the first railroad in Connecticut ran smack through the middle of Stonington Borough, transporting passengers and cargo on smoky, noisy trains.

With the completion in 1837 of the Providence and Stonington Railroad and access to coal-fired steamship service provided by the Boston and New York Transportation Company, the Borough became a major hub for people traveling between New York and Boston. It was bustling with activity, hotels, bars and shops. 

Entering through what is now known as Salt Acres, the rail line ran along Denison Avenue heading west, squeezing between homes and businesses, belching smoke and dangerous embers sometimes known to cause fires. The end of the line was the New York Steam-Boat Pier and Depot, now the site of the current Town Dock.

By 1890, the railroad was built to span the Connecticut and Thames Rivers and connect, which eliminated the need for a steamboat connection.

*Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library