Interesting Tidbits about Us & Our home
We bought this home in the summer of 2016. It was a foreclosure and in desperate need of some love and attention. We didn’t have a huge budget. While we had some contracting work done on things we were unable to do ourselves; we mostly repaired, fixed and updated both the inside and outside of 15 Summer Island Point ourselves. The house was furnished almost exclusively with extra things we had at our main home in Cheshire CT. While some things were new (mattresses, sleeper sofa & appliances to name a few), the things we didn’t have were purchased on consignment, at local yard sales, found roadside or donated by friends and neighbors. We refurnished what needed to be fixed up before placing it in this home.
Here are some things that one might find of interest about some of the items in our home
- The Welcome Mat on the porch of the driveway entrance into the mudroom (the one with the lock pad that is the common entry point) is made from recycled flip-flops.
- The Pain Killer magnet that is on the welcome board when you first come into the mudroom (with checkout instructions) is from the British Virgin Islands. It’s their most popular drink and one of our favorite sailing vacations that we have taken. Feel free to try out the recipe. If you love it – take a photo & make it back home too!
- The Oar in the mudroom going into the kitchen has been in the Anderson family for multiple generations.
- The Tide Clock in the kitchen is from a local artist in Ogunquit, Maine. At low tide you can see the whole beach and at high tide the beach is gone. The picture is of the Nubble Light house in York, ME. The York/Ogunquit area is a place that we frequent often and has a special place in our hearts.
- Almost every item of furniture in this home was bought on consignment and personally refinished by us. On most of the items refurbished, there is a hidden symbol somewhere that one could find or within the piece itself. It is Esterina’s signature to mark a little something special. on each one (hearts, peace symbols, sun, Namaste, sail boat… to name a few).
- There is a Small Shell Clock in the fireplace room on the lamp shelf. The hands of the clock have broken, but we like to keep it around as a reminder that when we are here, we are here to relax, enjoy and not worry about the time J
- All the live Plants in the house (other than the two large ones on the floor in the living room) are homegrown baby/child plants from our year round home that Esterina has nurtured and created. The two on the living room floor were a welcome gift from a neighbor who was just moving out and couldn’t bring them when we first moved in.
- All the Quilts on the beds and baskets are from both sides of our families and have been around for many years.
- The Lobster Buoys hanging off the side of the garage into the backyard are real lobster buoys that somehow ended up on our late sailboat from Maine several years back.
- The Shells, clams, rocks and muscles in jars around the house are all from the area or our trips around New England. On some of them, there are labels underneath with where the items have come from.
- The Clear Lamps in the Master Bedroom hold sand and sea glass right from the yard at the house here in Summer Island.
- The Books on the shelves of the main living room are an overflow from our own personal library and college days. Please feel free to read as many as you’d like and donate any books you read and would not like to take back home.
- The Lighthouse Painting in the 2nd upstairs bedroom was hand painted by Daren’s grandmother and portrays Nantucket’s Great Point Light House.
- The few places in which there are Printed scenic pictures around the home are ours from own various adventures.
- The Wine glasses that have names on the glasses are all from local Connecticut wineries.
- Similarly but even more local, the Beer glasses that have names on the glasses are all from the breweries right here in Branford!
Some Info & History on the Town of Branford, CT
In 1638 the New Haven Colony traded “eleven coats of trucking cloth and one coat of English cloth made in the English fashion” to the Mattabesec Indians for land known as Totokett (Tidal River). The first permanent settlement was established in 1644 when people from Wethersfield came to Totokett, later renamed Branford after the town of Brentford in Middlesex County, England…..
We thank the Branford Historical Society and local residents for their assistance in providing these materials.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.0 square miles (73 km2); 22.0 square miles (57 km2) are land and 6.0 square miles (16 km2) (21.5%) are water, including the Branford River, Queach Brook and the Branford Supply Ponds. There are two harbors, the more central Branford Harbor and Stony Creek Harbor on the east end, and one town beach at Branford Point. Much of the town’s border with East Haven to the west is dominated by Lake Saltonstall, a reservoir owned by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, and Saltonstall Mountain, part of the Metacomet Ridge, a mountainous trap rock ridgeline that stretches from Long Island Sound to nearly the Vermont border. The southern terminus of the Metacomet Ridge, Beacon Hill, is located in Branford.
The town of Branford includes the Thimble Islands. Neighboring towns are North Branford to the north, Guilford to the east, and East Haven to the west.
An area called “Totoket”, which became Branford, was part of the land bought from the Mattabesech Indians in 1638 by the first settlers of New Haven. Previously, the Dutch in the New Netherland settlements set up a trading post at the mouth of the Branford River in the 17th century, the source of the name “Dutch Wharf” also known as “Dutch House Wharf” and the Dutch House Quarter. The area was also described by Ezra Stiles as containing a “Dutch Fort” as hinted at by archaeological excavations completed in the 1990s.
The town’s name is said to be derived from the town of Brentford, England. The town in early maps was actually called Brentford before being shortened to Branford.
Established in 1644, Branford grew during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 18th century, the first shoreline community, Stony Creek, was settled. Indian Neck and Pine Orchard were also settled, but neither of those settlements was permanent until the mid-19th century.
In 1852, the railroad helped bring new business, including Branford Lockworks, Malleable Iron Fittings Company, and the Atlantic Wire Company. The Stony Creek granite quarries also rose to prominence as a direct consequence of railroad construction.
During the mid-19th century, Branford became a popular resort area. Approximately twenty hotels opened, including Indian Point House in Stony Creek, Montowese House in Indian Neck, and Sheldon House in Pine Orchard. During the mid-20th century, Branford shed its resort image and subsequently took on many characteristics typically associated with northeastern suburbs.
In 1974, Connecticut Hospice was founded in Branford, the first hospice in the United States.
Landmarks and attractions
Branford has six historic districts that are listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places(NRHP). These include buildings in Federal, Arts and Crafts, and Queen Anne styles of architecture. Five NRHP-listed districts are Branford Center Historic District, Branford Point Historic District, Canoe Brook Historic District, Route 146 Historic District, and Stony Creek-Thimble Islands Historic District.
More than 20 historic homes and other properties are separately listed on the National Register. In total, 30 properties or districts in Branford appear in New Haven County’s NRHP listings. One example is Harrison House and Museum, a 1724 structure, which has period furnishings, local historical items, archives, a barn and an herb garden.
Cruises of the Thimble Islands depart from the Stony Creek dock, and seal-watch cruises take place in March.
Branford’s recreational facilities include several town-maintained parks and beaches owned by private foundations, hiking trails along Lake Saltonstall and a stretch of the Shoreline Greenway Trail, and 20 miles (32 km) of coastline with more than 12 marinas.
Principal communities in Branford
Branford Center is a neighborhood and census-designated place (CDP) in the town. The CDP encompasses the traditional town center area (roughly the area bounded by U.S. Route 1, the Amtrak railroad tracks, and the Branford River) and the area known as Branford Point (the portion of the CDP south of the railroad tracks).
The Branford Center Historic District was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The historic district represents the area of the traditional town center and excludes Branford Point. The designated portion is an irregularly-shaped 250-acre (100 ha) area that includes 557 contributing buildings out of a total of 706 buildings in the district, including garages, carriage houses, and other structures. It includes two other contributing sites: the Center Cemetery and the Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery. The district boundaries were drawn to exclude modern construction such as the Branford High School and to exclude older buildings that did not retain their “historic architectural integrity.
Architectural styles represented in the Branford Center Historic District include Greek Revival architecture, Queen Anne architecture, and Colonial Revival architecture, Italianate architecture, Federal architecture, Gothic Revival architecture, Second Empire architecture, Colonial architecture, Tudor Revival architecture, and Bungalow architecture. These are mostly vernacular buildings. Of buildings designed by professional architects, the most significant is the “classically inspired, monumental 1893 James Blackstone Memorial Library,” designed by Solon Spencer Beman of Chicago. The library incorporates Tennessee marble and features a domed, octagonal rotunda. According to the historic district nomination, “relatively little remains in Branford Center that evokes its distant 17th- and early 18th century past.” The district instead includes remnants of late 19th and early 20th century industrial, commercial, and residential history.
Industry is represented in buildings of the Malleable Iron Fittings Company and the Atlantic Wire Company. Government buildings include the Branford Town Hall, from 1857, a Greek Revival building. Religious institution buildings in the district include:
- the First Baptist Church, from 1840, at 975 Main Street
- Mary’s Roman Catholic Church’s rectory from c. 1925 (contributing) and church from 1974 (non-contributing)
- First Congregational Church, at 1009 Main Street, a brick and stone building from 1843 in Greek Revival style, with Italianate addition from later in the century
The green is typical of a traditional New England town, and serves as Branford’s social, commercial, and governmental nerve center. It is home to many small stores, restaurants, and coffee houses, (including perennial favorites like Ashley’s Ice Cream and Common Grounds) and hosts concerts and other events, such as the annual Branford Festival which is one of the towns largest events taking place on Father’s Day weekend each year. The Branford Green is lined with churches as well as the town hall; other government facilities (such as the Branford Police Department and United States Post Office), are located on nearby Harrison Avenue. A memorial to Branford’s contributions during the American Civil War is to the right of the town hall. The historic Blackstone Library is situated in the western portion of the Center.
Branford Hills sits on the western end of town and centers on the heavily commercialized strip of U.S. Route 1. Fast-food and sit-down restaurants, auto dealers, grocery stores, and several strip malls are located there. The more southern section features less dense areas with woodlands and farm featuring trails that the Branford Land Trust preserves that connect the Shoreline Greenway trail from New Haven to Madison. The northern section also features a less dense area with woodlands that surround Lake Saltonstall which also feature trail systems maintained by the Regional Water Authority, as the Lake is a reservoir for Branford.
Branford Hills features many condominium and apartment complexes. The original site of Connecticut Hospice (now the Monastery of the Glorious Cross – a semi-cloistered community of Benedictine nuns) is located in this area, on Burban Drive. Also on Burban Drive is St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, which was originally located in Short Beach.
Indian Neck is in the south-central section of Branford, dominated by a peninsula bordering Branford Harbor. Both Foote Park and John B. Sliney Memorial Park are located within Indian Neck.
Back in the early to mid 20th century Indian Neck was a tourist destination. Trolley service came down to Sybil and Limewood avenues, which had its own commercial area. These included Harry’s General Store, Bud’s Bait Box, and on Limewood Ave the Waverly Inn, Madelyn’s Restaurant, Surfside Restaurant, a news, comics, candy, variety store named Lounsberry’s, and Dairy Joy Ice Cream. Much of the area contained second homes, so the beach was an active place. As the area became more year-round the commercial business slowly shut down. The Montasco Inn, owned/operated for many years by the Poirot’s was torn down in the 60’s. The landmark Waverly Inn burned to the ground in the early 1970s truly marking the end of an era. Indian Neck – Pine Orchard Volunteer Fire Company 9 is located here.
In February 2015, Stony Creek Brewery, named after the Stony Creek area of Branford, opened its doors here.
Pine Orchard is situated between Indian Neck and Stony Creek. The Pine Orchard Yacht and Country Club (P.O.Y.C.C.), the Pine Brook School (formerly Wightwood School), a private institution, and Francis Walsh Intermediate School are found here. Notable residents include Dr. Nicholas Perricone and Edward M. Kennedy, Jr.
Stony Creek is located the southeastern section of town, centered on a harbor on Long Island Sound. Stony Creek has the ambiance of a small seaside village, which retains its roots as a summer vacation location with old Victorian hotels and a working granite quarry. It is known for the Thimble Islands an archipelago of glacial rocks, ranging from 17 acres (6.9 ha) down to stepping-stone size, at the harbor’s mouth. Despite their small size, they possess a wealth of history and local lore, as well as providing pleasant scenery. The islands are privately owned but visitors may get an up-close view via several tour boats, which run in the spring, summer and autumn. In the past, Stony Creek was also known for lobstering and oystering, but these industries have all but vanished in recent decades.
The village which has several unique attractions: the Thimble Islands, the Stony Creek Puppet House (known as the Legacy Theatre but may not be open), Stony Creek Museum as well as a small public beach, town docks with boat launch, playground and public library. Three local companies offer boat tours and charters of the Thimble Islands from March thru October.
Other local businesses in the village consist of a package store (liquor store), retail shop, two auto service shops, Stony Creek Depot (vintage gift shop with vacation lodging) and two restaurants: Stony Creek Market and Thimbleberry. The village residential traffic is seasonal, and peaks between Memorial Day and Labor Day but the commercial businesses are open year-round.
Stony Creek is also home to the all-male Stony Creek Fife & Drum Corps, which was founded in 1886. The Corps practices weekly at the renovated Seaside Hall. On occasional summer evenings, the Corps plays aboard the island tour boat, much to the delight of the local residents. In the past, the Corps received many awards and honors, including participating in President Eisenhower’s inaugural parade. Stony Creek is also home to the only all-female fife and drum corps, Totoket Ancient Fife & Drum Corps, who holds their practice at Seaside Hall.
A large quarry is still working and supplies the distinctive pink/orange Stony Creek granite. This granite was used for the Brooklyn Bridge, the Stony Creek Library, and the newest House Office Building in Washington, D.C. It can also be seen in the South Station terminal in Boston, Grand Central Terminal in NYC, and in the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Short Beach is the westernmost of Branford’s neighborhoods. About a half mile long, it is home to many small islands, the largest being Kelsey’s Island which has a few small cabins used as summer homes.
Short Beach was once a thriving shoreline vacation village that became almost a completely year-round neighborhood starting in the late 1950s. There are still million-dollar summer homes on the waterfront as well as the old vacation homes. Nowadays Short Beach is a fast-growing area that still retains a neighborhood feel. It is home to people of every economic background and is a safe and heavily policed area. Most of the old cottages have been fixed up, so much so that the area has a newer look than it did just ten years ago. There has been immigration to Short Beach and the New Haven area in general from the former Yugoslaviaas well as from the Caribbean.
Short Beach is home to half of the famous Shore Line Trolley Museum, which is also in neighboring East Haven, Connecticut. Also in Short Beach are the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club (YCYC), Shore Automotive, the Adult Day Care Center, Short Beach Church, the local fire house, which houses and is owned by Short Beach Hose, Hook and Ladder Volunteer Company 4 of the Branford Fire Department, as well as a U. S. Post Office. Short Beach has three parks, the largest being Pardee Park in the center. Short Beach has a 3-day festival at the end of summer called Short Beach Days with a parade, lip-synching contest, races, basketball, and sand castle building.
New Haven CT Transit F3, F5 and F6 buses run through Short Beach connecting the neighborhood to East Haven, New Haven, downtown Branford and go as far as Seymour and Ansonia.
Short Beach is known for a population of monk parakeets that live there. It is said that they escaped from captivity and never left the neighborhood. The parrots took up residence in the community’s trees and can be heard and seen all year long. Other interesting facts:
- Short Beach was occupied by theQuinnipiac and possibly the Paugussett tribes in the 17th century but this information is still disputed.
- The modern day Short Beach was founded with Branford in 1644 byBritish colonists.
- 1920s Short Beach becomes a summer town rivaling many ofRhode Island’s beach towns in popularity.
- From 1891 until she died in 1919, poetElla Wheeler Wilcox lived on the Short Beach coast overlooking Granite Bay.
- Common animals in the area includemonk parakeets, known locally as “Short Beach parrots,” raccoons, mice, possums, skunks, gulls, pigeons, common terns, ducks, deer, coyotes, bobcats, turkeys and Cornsnakes also live in some Short Beach areas.
Hotchkiss Grove is located between Indian Neck and Pine Orchard and consists of First through Ninth avenues, as well as parts of Hotchkiss Grove Road, Seaview Avenue, and Dudley Avenue. It has a small beach used for swimming and mooring boats and features a raft to swim out to. Bay Point Park (The Point) is a grassy peninsula going out into the water where there used to be a small pier. Occasionally residents of Hotchkiss Grove can rent the Point to host parties. Every first Saturday of August, Hotchkiss Grove Day is held, with the day starting with a costume parade, games, and prizes. In the afternoon there are beach games in which kids compete with one another on the beach, a clam bar, and live music. Dinner, a raffle, auction, and dancing close out the evening. Historically Hotchkiss Grove was a summer community with beach cottages and dirt roads; over the past two decades most of the cottages have been converted into permanent, year round residences.
Other minor communities and geographic features in the town are Branford Point, Brocketts Point, Brushy Plain, Cherry Hill, Clam Island, Double Beach, Goodsell Point, Granite Bay, Haycock Point, High Island, Jepson Island, Johnson’s Point, Kidd’s Island, Killam’s Point, Lanphier Cove, Little Pumpkin, Money Island, Pawson Park, Potato Island, Rockland Park, Sagamore Cove, Scotch Cap, Sumac Island, Summer Island J, Sunset Beach, Thimble Islands, Todd’s Hill, Vedder’s Point, and Wheeler Island.
Now that Malleable Iron Fittings has been largely demolished and the site turned into housing, Branford is known for high-technology and pharmaceutical companies such as 454 Life Sciences and Durata Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of differentiated therapeutic solutions for physicians and providers to advance patient care in infectious disease and acute illnesses. Also with offices and manufacturing space in Branford is American Polyfilm, Inc., which specializes in the manufacture of polyurethane film for a number of industries including industrial and high performance fabrics and medical products to name a few. Wilson Arms is in Branford, a company that produces small-caliber rifles and parts. Branford is currently home to three privately owned beer breweries: Stony Creek Brewery, Thimble Island Brewing Co, and Duvig Brewing Company. Within the town are also two large glazing and window construction companies, Massey’s Plate Glass & Aluminum and Cherry Hill Glass. Branford is also home to Autac, Inc. which has been manufacturing high quality coiled cords since 1947.
- Brentford, England
Thimble Island History
The Thimble Islands – Little Islands with a Big History
The Thimble Islands are a chain of 365 islands in Stony Creek Harbor off the southeast coast of Branford in Long Island Sound. This archipelago was first recorded as “Thimble Islands” in Branford town records in 1739 but earlier maps show them named the “Hundred Islands.” Legends say that the islands were named for thimbleberries, a relative of our native black raspberries, but are seldom found in the area. Dutch explorer, Adrian Block was the first European to discover the islands in 1614, although the Mattabesek Indians knew them well and referred to them as Kuttomquosh, “the beautiful sea rocks.” The sizes of the islands vary greatly from acres wide down to small rocks jutting up from the sea, and the majority can only be seen during times of low tide. Today, the inhabited islands are home to local residents, small businesses, and remain steeped in folklore and history.
Early History of the Thimble Islands
In the early 18th century, the islands had little to no value to local residents. The terrain proved inhospitable to farming, being too rocky and too small for sufficient crops. Additionally, most were too small to inhabit. They were, however, good spots for fishing, oystering, and seaweed harvesting. By the late 18th century the town of Branford distributed the entire chain of islands to residents descended from the original Branford settlement.
Interest in the islands began to change in the mid-1800s. In 1846, local resident William Bryan built the Thimble Island Hotel on his Pot Island land. Bryan attracted tourists and treasure hunters alike by taking advantage of the legend that Captain Kidd buried his treasure on the islands. Within a month, day-trippers piled onto the steamer Hero for tours to and around the islands. By the next summer Bryan expanded his hotel, offering two bowling alleys, boating, swimming, and fishing. During the 1850s, the railroad running between New Haven and New London made the trip easy for those living in nearby cities, and the islands became a popular resort area offering a respite from busy city life.
Advertisement from New Haven’s Columbian Register, July 8, 1865, for the steamer “Alice E. Preston” excursions to the Thimble Islands. Only a $1.00 for a round trip.
The area’s resort industry declined during the Civil War, but by the war’s end, tourism once again boomed. Residents built private summer cottages, hotels, and guesthouses and welcomed tourists from near and far. Large steamers upped their schedules and ferried people to the islands multiple times a day. By the close of the 19th century, Stony Creek Harbor filled with yachts, attracting a wealthy public from New York City and New Haven. At the start of the 20th century, the islands became more privatized. Local landowners and their families built private summer homes, although the numerous ferries continued to bring tourists to and from the islands.
1938 Hurricane Destroys Island Homes
In September 1938, a hurricane hit without warning. (Although the islands had underwater telephone lines, weather warnings did not yet exist.) The hurricane badly damaged the island properties and stranded residents. The storm swept entire residences into sea, and seven people lost their lives. The hurricane, along with the impending Great Depression, forever altered the bustling, busy islands. Hotels did not reopen and ferry service dwindled. By the 1940s, the Thimble Islands became a quiet community, for those few who could still afford it.
These days the Thimble Islands remain a quiet summer community, although recently they have witnessed a resurgence in tourism. Of the over 365 islands, only 23 are inhabited, and only six islands have electrical power brought through underwater cables. There are a total of 81 houses on the inhabited islands and they range from small summer cottages that run on generators to huge mansions complete with caretaker’s quarters and basketball courts. These properties are included in the Stony Creek-Thimble islands Historic District listed in 1988 on the National Register of Historic Places. Famous Americans also call or have called the Thimble Islands home. General Tom Thumb, of P. T. Barnum fame, once lived on the islands, and for two years in the 1900s, President William Taft had a summer home on Davis Island.
The islands, although predominantly used for residential purposes, today serve a number of other purposes. Yale University owns Horse Island and it is part of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History’s Ecological Laboratory, and Bear Island has a granite quarry which, in the past, exported stone to build Grant’s Tomb, the base of the Statue of Liberty, and the Lincoln Memorial. There is also a water taxi that transports people to and from the islands. As recently as the 1970s, the wealthy Svenningsen family purchased their first Thimble Islands property, West Crib. Christine Svenningsen now owns approximately half of the populated Thimble-Island properties.