Around the (Quiet) Corner

Photo by Ling Messer
The northeastern region of Connecticut may be its most restful and undisturbed, but it still holds plenty of wonders to explore.
By Lisa Cavanaugh

It’s hard to take highways to Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner.” Instead, you will need to slow down, travel leisurely along bucolic state and local roads, and let the tranquil atmosphere of this mainly rural district sweep over you.

Also known as the Windham County Region, the Quiet Corner consists of 23 towns over more than 500 square miles. “The nickname reflects our region’s picturesque landscapes, quaint towns, and a slower pace of life,” says Elle-Jordyn Goslin, Executive Director of the Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

First, you will notice the area’s charming scenery. “Our region is especially beautiful through the seasons,” says Goslin. “A drive down the 169 byway through the Quiet Corner will allow you to experience vibrant foliage in spring, summer, and fall, or peaceful snowscapes in winter.” It is also a National Heritage Corridor with 84 percent forest and farm. “We are fortunate to have organizations like The Last Green Valley that advocate for sustaining our region’s rural landscape.”

The Gothic Revival Roseland Cottage in Woodstock includes a formal parterre garden, an icehouse, a carriage barn, and a small garden house in the form of a Greek temple. Photo courtesy of Historic New England

Fittingly, outdoor activities are plentiful, with many state and regional parks, such as Bigelow Hollow in Union, Mashamoquet Brook in Pomfret, Quaddick in Thompson, and Natchaug State Forest in Ashford, offering recreational areas for hiking, biking, camping, and fishing. “You can find something for everyone here,” says Goslin. “From the peaceful Air Line State Park Trail to more fast-paced adventures at the Thompson Speedway.”

It is also an area awash in history. “Back in the day, this place was anything but quiet,” says Laurie Masciandaro, Site Manager of Roseland Cottage in Woodstock. “In fact, we used to have the biggest July 4th celebration in the country right here. Four presidents have visited Roseland.” Painted a vibrant pink since its construction in 1846, the Gothic Revival was Henry Chandler Bowen’s summer home. A “local boy done good,” according to Masciandaro, Bowen was born and raised in Woodstock, moved to New York City, made a fortune as a silk merchant, and built a grandiose summer cottage in his hometown. “I think he was probably showing off a bit, but he was also bringing the broader world back to his little town,” says Masciandaro. Bowen was also a noted abolitionist. “We are proud that Mr. Bowen founded one of the most important anti-slavery magazines of its time, The Independent.”

Scranton Shops is one of the many popular antiques destinations in Northeast CT. Photo by Ling Messer

The region is also known for its tremendous antiquing opportunities. The four-floor Antiques Marketplace in Putnam, with 375 vendors dealing in furniture, glassware, jewelry, and more, is a vintage-seeker’s paradise. Another terrific spot is Scranton’s Shops in South Woodstock. Housed in a converted blacksmith’s shop, it features folk art, pottery, and collectibles.

If you time your visit right, you can also experience the annual Country Antiques in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner Show. Hosted by the Ellis Tech Parent Faculty Organization, the show has been running for 30 years and features more than 60 dealers from New England and beyond.

Make sure to leave room in your schedule for a stop at one of the local vineyards, breweries, or distilleries that have flourished in recent years, including Taylor Brooke Winery, Watercure Farm Distillery, Bear Hands Brewing Company, and Willimantic Brewing Company. Each offers its own schedule of tastings, entertainment, and special events.

Food options abound as well. The sustainable and scenic Little Dipper Farm in Brooklyn offers seasonal festivals, educational experiences, farm-to-table dinners, private events, and cooking classes. In Putnam, your choices include 85 Main, The Hare & The Hound, and Elizabeth’s Farmhouse. Visit Pomfret for a casual breakfast surrounded by books at the quirky Traveler Restaurant in Union.

The women-owned Little Dipper Farm hosts monthly events.

“We have quaint accommodations for visitors, like The Mansion at Bald Hill, the Quiet Corner Inn, and the Stoneledge Inn,” shares Goslin. The circa 1870s home that became the Stoneledge had immediate appeal to Joe and Kelly Bellavance, who moved from Boston to open the inn in 2021. “We just fell in love with the area,” says Kelly. Offering three tastefully designed rooms and a freshly prepared full breakfast, the couple has made Stoneledge chic and welcoming. “This is an amazing part of Connecticut,” says Kelly. “There is so much to do here, and it is so great to be part of a vibrant, small community.”

“This is a super congenial place,” agrees Masciandaro. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to work at Roseland.” She references the annual tea the cottage hosts for graduating seniors at nearby Woodstock Academy. “People in the area feel connected to us and to the very fabric of the town.”

Guests at The Stoneledge Inn can gather at the firepit or explore the property’s garden paths. Photo courtesy of Stoneledge Inn

“The people here are salt-of-the-earth people,” says Goslin. “In such a small, tight-knit community, you can walk anywhere and be greeted with a smile. It is unlike any other part of the state.”

Windham County is only an hour from Boston—less from Providence or Worcester—so it is easy enough to escape the busyness of nearby cities and relax for a weekend or a week. “It is a great location for anyone wanting to slow down and enjoy a peaceful vacation,” says Goslin. But be patient and enjoy the ride, as Masciandaro advises. “You have got to work a little bit to get here, but it is so charming once you do.”

The Taylor Brooke Winery, part of the Connecticut Wine Trail, is open year-round. Photo by Ling Messer


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