As I drove into Putnam, Connecticut in my 1972 Volkswagen Bus, brisk air drifted through my window and crimson gold leaves crunched under the tires. A scenic drive through winding farm roads led me here and Cargill Falls with its cascading river water welcomed me into town. About an hour drive from Boston, shop windows along Main Street were decorated with stacked pumpkins and copper objects and gears in celebration of Putnam’s October 4 Steampunk Festival. Galleries, antique shops and street art give this town an artsy, yet vintage flair, and autumn is the perfect time to explore it.
To begin the journey with a coffee, espresso, latte or hot cider from Woodstock Orchards, head to Victoria Station Café located at 91 Main Street. Its draped curtains and spiral staircase give a classic feel to this family-owned establishment and the full skeleton at the bar adds Halloween eeriness. In addition to the café’s drink selection, it offers a light lunch of quiche like spinach and feta, as well as sweet delicacies like chocolate fudge berry cake, mixed berry muffins, apple turnovers and chocolate croissants.
112 Main Street houses a number of art galleries and studios and upon entering the rustic building, visitors will see whimsical décor such as a cabinet of books with fairy porches and windows attached to them like little houses and branches holding mechanical gears.
Sawmill Pottery offers a small gallery of handmade tableware and trinkets by local artisans, glazed, marbled and textured in their own ways. Jennifer Singleton of Long Road Pottery displays her mermaid- scale mugs and bowls with wavy rims, all applying the cool colors of turquoise, sky blue, and eggplant to resemble coastal New England. The studio also offers pottery workshops and classes like clay pumpkin carving on Saturday, October 19 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for $70 with all materials included.
Windows Art Gallery, also in the 112 building, offers crafting classes for anyone interesting in stretching their creativity. The gallery is located in the studio of Theresa Lacasse, founder of Red Cord Ministries, who creates colorful faith and nature-based paintings with visible brush strokes, all dedicated to women healing from abuse or without affordable housing in the area.
Further down at 136 Main Street, the walls of Arts & Framing of Putnam are covered in framed paintings by local artists. “Sedona” by Joann Vandale pictures a desert landscape with green bushes and blazing orange dirt underneath, all triangulating to a large, layered red rock of Sedona, almost in alignment with the horizontal puff of clouds. It transports viewers into the scene with its blotted paint technique as they admire the power of the vertical rock reaching upwards.
“Autumn Foliage” by Jean Arcano also rests on the wall, displaying its rust-colored trees mirrored in the body of water in the foreground. The oil painting’s one-point perspective draws viewers into the tranquil scene and realistic style with its range of fall colors that can be seen again outside the shop as the leaves turn in the eccentric town of Putnam, Connecticut.
(Victoria Station Café, located at 91 Main Street, Putnam, Connecticut, is open Mondays through Thursdays from 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Fridays from 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sawmill Pottery, 112 Main St., is open Monday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. Windows Gallery, 112 Main St., is open Monday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday from noon-5 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Arts & Framing of Putnam, 136 Main St., is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon-4 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Join Putnam artists and locals for its special events each first Friday of the month for art, music and dancing. Also, visit the Great Pumpkin Festival with craft and art vendors on October 19 from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. For more information, visit discoverputnam.com).