The Quiet Corner Makes Some Noise
by J. Fatima Martins
There is a place within “The Last Green Valley” with an endearing sobriquet: northeast Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, a quintessential New England day-trip or weekend getaway retreat for urbanites and romantics seeking seclusion from the big city. While the Quiet Corner can be remarkably dark, sometimes foggy, sleepy and atmospheric at night (and free of heavy artificial lighting and city glare), during the daytime, the mostly rural landscape, abundant in country sounds, is the nesting place of scenic towns with thriving, innovative arts communities. U.S. Route 169, the second-longest national byway of its kind, goes through Woodstock, home of two exclusive Quiet Corner star designation points: the historic Inn at Woodstock Hill bed and breakfast (1816) and Roseland Cottage, a National Historic Landmark House Museum (1846).
On the same route, at 292 Route 169 in South Woodstock, in a small, partially hidden wood-frame house set away from the main road, is the superbly charming Mrs. Bridges’ Pantry, “A Little Slice of Britain” — a traditional, proper English-style tea and lunch room and arts and crafts shop with imported products and locally crafted goods. From here, the route heading south winds gently along hilly fields and farmland into picturesque historic Pomfret Center, the location of Pomfret School (1894) and The Rectory School (1920). Just a bit down the road, you’ll find Celebrations Gallery, Shoppes and Tea Room (330 Pomfret St.) housed in a Queen Anne-style mansion. Originally Miss Vinton’s School for Girls (1885), the house also functioned as The Pomfret Inn and a private home until it was converted into Celebrations nearly 15 years ago.
While Pomfret Center is a charming, elegant and tranquil country-sophisticate, Downtown Putnam, a six-mile drive down Route 44, is her dynamic, artsy, and slightly rebellious country-urban sister. Ann Monteiro, owner of The Flying Carpet Studio and Gift Shop (located in the old Montgomery Ward Building) and managing director at The Empty Spaces Project, both on Main Street, gives credit to the strong team effort between The Putnam Business Association, The Putnam Development Office and the Putnam Arts Council for reviving and sustaining the arts downtown, through “events and marketing that support Putnam’s vision of becoming the Cultural Center of Eastern Connecticut.”