Last Friday I did something revolutionary--I spent the morning away from the office. Not only that, I liberated myself from the car, and lingered with idle thoughts while enjoying the view of a small but fast-flowering river and the plunging waterfall it leads to.
|The East Aspetuck River running behind shops.| The truth, of course, is that I was working the entire time, primarily through conducting interviews for a story on the new Upstairs Antiques, located above Dawn Hill Antiques (http://www.dawnhillantiques.com/) for the LCT monthly magazine of The Litchfield County Times (see http://www.countytimes.com/ June 24 for the story.) But strolling, looking, thinking and re-ordering the world is working, too. Almost everything I notice or investigate eventually becomes content for readers of our weekly paper, monthly magazine or glossy quarterly magazine (http://www.passport-mag.com/).
This morning of interviewing and content fishing was different, though. I was in New Preston, a village of the town of Washington, Conn., that possesses a unique charm and appeal that is exponentially bigger than the hamlet's bijoux-sized status. Located on the lower end of Lake Waramaug, a bastion of fine summer and year-round homes for affluent sophisticates, New Preston literally clings to a strip of land squeezed between higher ground on one side and the rushing East Aspetuck River on the other. Once a self-contained village with a gas station, drug store, restaurant and more, New Preston today is full of the best things in life.
It' still has blink-and-you'll-miss-it status, but you won't want to miss any of it. While walking last Friday morning from a parking lot at a former boys club at the top of the village down to Upstairs Antiques at the lower end of "town," I realized more than ever how much I love New Preston. Hardly any shops were open yet, but in peeking in the windows of clothing boutiques, an upscale kitchen goods store, an antiques shop and more, I wanted everything. To make a corny analogy, it's like the laundry detergent that's so concentrated, one spoonful will cleanse your entire wardrobe. Within a tiny footprint, New Preston's merchants can change your entire wardrobe and decor, along with your palate and sense of self.
So hemmed in by its geography is New Preston that parking can be a bit tricky at times. The real challenge is that the village was dealt a blow recently by a state project. It was necessary to shore up a section of the road between the village and Lake Waramaug. In this case, the state route was closed entirely, making it very difficult and circuitous for anyone to get to New Preston from towns such as Kent, Cornwall, Warren and beyond. Business suffered.
In the interest of a rebound, the merchants have gotten together and created a new Web site for New Preston (http://www.newprestonct.com/) and are having a party with drinks, food and live music on the evening of July 1 to officially celebrate the launch of the site and re-launch of New Preston. There will be an opportunity to win a $1,500 shopping spree in the village, and generally a chance to get acquainted with a place that deserves to be visited and savored. Read a story about the Web site and summer stroll in The Litchfield County Times: http://www.countytimes.com/articles/2011/06/24/business/doc4e035f4586fdd922214197.txt
In no way playing favorites---these just happened to be the photos I took that turned out OK---here's a sampling of what awaits in New Preston.
|The Firehouse, Fashion and Furthermore.|This is The Firehouse, a boutique with fashions for women and children (http://www.shopthefirehouse.com/). My wife picked up an outfit there not long ago for a special dinner at a private home and the whole county has apparently heard how amazing she looked.
The longtime anchor boutique for women in town is J. Seitz & Company (my photo was a lemon). Joanna and Amanda Seitz are trendsetters, and their shop also offers fashions for men and for the home, including pieces from the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams line. (http://www.mgbwhome.com/). See the shop's Web site: (http://www.jseitz.com/)
|Pergola.|Another shop whose partnership gets the Seitz touch is called Pergola, and it's focus is on the garden side of homes. (http://www.pergolahome.com/)
After fashion has been covered, interior decorating and exterior accoutrements, too, next comes the kitchen and dining areas. New Preston Kitchen Goods stands ready to offer everyone necessary for the gourmet chef, or just the master-entertainer. To get a taste, see the shop's Web site: http://www.newprestonkitchengoods.com/).
With dining in mind, New Preston has an amazing amount to offer in a very limited space. At The Smithy (http://www.thesmithystore.com/), organic and local produce can be purchased as the ingredients for a fine meal at home, and just up the hill on the same property is The Mindful Kitchen, a gourmet take-out food establishment.
Just across the street is Nine Main, a bakery with award-winning muffins, scones and more that does a thriving lunch trade with its signature sandwiches.
And while in New Preston, make sure not to miss the shops not mentioned by name here---and also don't miss the waterfall!