Connecticut Chic

Cruise the refined shops nestled in the heart of Stonington village for a diverse and delightful cache of treasures.

Unlike other historic havens, Stonington, Connecticut, is stylish, not quaint. An air of sophisticated joie de vivre pervades this village that was founded in the seventeenth century. The old houses are polished to perfection, the gardens are colorful but well-clipped, and even the fishing boats seem upbeat. This unique spirit enhances the many shops as well and entices us, at least once a summer (sometimes more), to head across the border for an afternoon of always well-rewarded exploring. Photography by Nat Rea

places to shop

Chinese Red, 17 High Street, 860-535-3605. Yin and yang. A skillful blend of Chinese furniture (chests, tables, shapely chairs) and contemporary trappings cooks up an exotic ambience. There are lush pillows and linens, dishes and baskets, too –– all stylish fare that will fit easily in your car for the ride home. Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Devon House Antiques and Gallery, 72 Water Street, 860-535-4452. It’s difficult to imagine not finding something at Devon House to covet, whether it’s a piece of furniture (antique or reproduction, English, French or country) or a painting. A generous array of furnishings gives way to a bounty of quality art in a handsome old building. Hours: Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Tuesday. Hours can vary; call ahead.

Hungry Palette Dry Goods
, 105 Water Street, 860-535-2021. Bolts of hand-silk-screened fabrics, designed on the premises, in colors more tropical  than New England, will fire up fresh design schemes for the home. Add to that super skirts and sarongs made of the same panache-filled patterns to keep summer ever close. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., longer on the weekends.

A.K. Dasher Jewelry
, 141 Water Street, 860-535-1774. Necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets; a surplus of great jewelry in affordable prices. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grand and Water Antiques
, 145 Water Street, 860-535-2624. We thought we’d lost our hearts to a rope bed turned swish mini-sofa (think chunky wood frame teamed with graphic black and white upholstery). Then, we happened upon the Hepplewhite dining chair updated with a zingy seat and were really smitten. And did we mention the irresistible lamps, the silver or side tables? Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Boat House Antiques
, 145c Water Street, 860-535-4714. You have to meander down a tiny alley to get to this shop, but inside a host of beguiling treasures, including a good many nautical items, are neatly arranged for viewing. A recent visit yielded a trio of vintage outdoor magazines (perfect framing fodder) for $8. Had we the funds, we would have also carried away two Chinese prints marked $500. Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours can vary; call ahead.

Brick Gallery
, 147 Water Street, 860-535-3030, If you’ve been yearning for a landscape or seascape, look no further. Some thirty artists working in oil, watercolor and pastel are showcased. Styles range from traditional to modern in a range of prices. Hours: Vary; call ahead.

Orkney and Yost, 148 Water Street, 860-535-4402. Oriental rugs and more rugs from scores of Middle East locales. There’s a stock of more than 1,000, in fact, and each is a work of art. In myriad sizes and designs, these handmade treasures are heirlooms for the kids. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Great American Illustrators, 155 Water Street, 860-535-9286. Behind the red facade lurks a rich presentation of magazine covers and illustrations by well-known names such as N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell from around the mid-1800s on up to the 1960s. If you have a favorite artist the shop doesn’t feature, they’ll search him out for you.  Hours: By chance or appointment.

Luli, 158 Water Street, 860-535-3336, lulionline
.com. A tiny stone courtyard leads the way to a trove of women’s fashions you don’t see everyday. Designs culled from around the world and many reminiscent of Hepburn and Bacall. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

places to revive

Skipper’s Dock, 66 Water Street, 860-535-0111, Sit on the deck overlooking the water and boats. The sandwiches are hearty, the beer is cold, and on a summer day there’s little else to want except dinner, which is equally good here. Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight. 

Noah’s, 113 Water Street, 860-535-3925, Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Noah’s has long had a faithful
following. Even the soups of the day— a delicious white bean and sausage medley is just one—will make it evident why. Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Water Street Café, 143 Water Street, 860-535-2122. The Creole chicken or Yankee barbecue pork sandwiches and flaky crab cakes are delicious, but don’t order until you check out the innovative blackboard specials. Hours: Daily for lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; breakfast from 8 a.m. on weekends.

Yellow House Coffee and Tea, 149 Water Street, 860-535-4986. Sometimes, all you need is a cup of coffee, an egg sandwich or a lovingly made sweet to move you along. Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to noon.

in the neighborhood

Explore the town dock, home port to the state’s only fishing fleet. At the end of Water Street, opposite the stunning nineteenth-century Greek Revival Ocean Bank Building, are dual eighteen-pound cannons used to repel British troops, and the picturesque Old Lighthouse Museum


A few things we love from our trip to Stonington.

At Devon House Antiques and Gallery: A European potting table ($2,200), porcelain lamp ($290), and artwork: fishing boats by Chris Dixon ($425), and oil pastel (on wall) by Carol Boucher ($150). This page: 1 At Devon House: A hand-painted reproduction William and Mary high chest of drawers ($4,400), a still-life fragment by Kevin Paulsen ($3,200), and nineteenth-century copper measures ($195/set). 2 At Boat House Antiques: Ship’s lanterns ($95 to $500). 3 At Hungry Palette Dry Goods: Hand-silk-screened panels in a willow pattern ($68). 4 At Chinese Red: A nineteenth-century Tibetan table ($795), and wooden grain measures ($29 each).