|As the first town to be incorporated in Connecticut after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Washington bears the name of the Revolutionary War General who passed through the area on three separate occasions: George Washington.
What was historically a quiet farming community in the hills of Litchfield County has retained its rural appeal over the years and has long been a haven for artists, writers and people seeking respite from city life. These individuals have dedicated themselves and their finances to this classic New England town and it has evolved into a cultural center within Litchfield County. The strong support of the arts, combined with its long held tradition of preservation, the beauty of the natural landscape, the abundance of open space, and proximity to Lake Waramaug has made this special place one of the most desirable communities in the area.
Within the town proper are four distinct villages, each with its own zip code and personality: Washington Depot, Washington, New Preston and Marbledale. Nestled between two sides of the 4,550 acre Steep Rock Land Trust www.steeprockassoc.org on the banks of the Shepaug River sits Washington Depot, the commercial center of town. This “one stop-sign” center offers residents and visitors a variety of businesses and services – but in very small doses. Any given day you will find people browsing the shelves of the local Hickory Stick Bookstore www.hickorystickbookshop.com or sipping coffee and taking advantage of the local WiFi at Marty’s Café www.seeyouatmartys.com. While in the Depot, stop at The Pantry for the best in gourmet lunch fare or enjoy a burger just up the street at G.W. Tavern where you can also hear live music on Saturday nights.(Photo: The Mayflower Hotel & Spa)
Just up the hill from the Depot is the village of Washington, famous for its beautifully preserved Green and the current location of The Gunnery School www.gunnery.org. One of three, and possibly the best-known historic district in town, the area around the Washington Green encompasses "Judea", the original parish on the land that would later become the town of Washington. Historic homes on the Green housed the roots of the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum www.gunnlibrary.org, The Gunnery School and some of Washington's first families. Additionally, the area around the Green is known for the architecture of Ehrick Rossiter as several homes of his design are within walking distance. Mr. Rossiter retired to Washington in 1921 and is known for deeding 186 acres and forming the Steep Rock Land Trust in 1925. Also in the village of Washington is the Mayflower Inn & Spa www.mayflowerinn.com. If you are staying in the area, do consider this five star hotel and restaurant. (Photo: One of Washington’s many Ehrick Rossiter’s designed homes.)
A second historic district, and the largest of Washington’s three, lies on the west side of the Depot. Here historic properties, including farms, accent Baldwin Hill Road, Calhoun Street, Ives Road, Kielwasser Road and Kinney Hill Road and have allowed Washington to retain its rural splendor. You will find Averill Farm and Starberry Farm, two of the oldest farms in the area dating back to the 1700s. Bring the kids for apple and peach picking in the fall and find local produce, cider and baked goods at the farmstand.
West of Washington and Washington Depot is the village of New Preston. This tiny town center boasts quintessential New England charm with a few antique and home furnishing stores, including the local favorites Dawn Hill Antiques and J. Seitz. It is also home to one of the area’s best restaurants: Oliva. New Preston is also bordered on the north by the stunning shores of Lake Waramaug, Connecticut’s second largest natural lake. Oft considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Waramaug has been carefully protected over the past four decades by both the Lake Waramaug Task Force www.lwtf.org and the Lake Waramaug Association www.waramaugassoc.org. This protective ethos, which has kept development and overuse in check and retained the lake’s ecological stability, has made lake properties among the most desirable in the region.
Residents and visitors have come to Washington for its solitude, its charm, its access to outdoor recreation on Lake Waramaug and within the Steep Rock Land Trust, and its cultural scene. It has been a draw especially for young families with its strong region 12 public school system and proximity to several private schools including Washington Montessori www.washingtonmontessori.org, Rumsey Hall www.rumseyhall.org and The Gunnery www.thegunnery.org. Not to mention, Washington has a wonderful Parks and Recreation program http://www.washingtonct.org/recsched.pdf for its youth. Please visit www.washingtonct.org for more information about one of the most unique towns in the area.