Connecticut For Literature-Lovers

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Connecticut For Literature-Lovers

There are numerous locations for literature-lovers to visit in Connecticut, ranging from museums and historical settings for famous books, restaurants housed in former libraries, and locations which have been frequented by famous playwrights. The list below provides details of 10 destinations for literature-lovers in Connecticut.

Gertrude Chandler Warner Boxcar Children's Museum

  • This museum, located in a boxcar in Putnam, CT, is named for Gertrude Chandler Warner, a life-long Connecticut resident, famous for the Boxcar Children series. The award-winning books were originally published in 1942 and revolve around the adventures of a group of orphaned children.
  • The museum is dedicated to the work of Warner, and includes children's activities, original signed books, historical items from Warner's life, and a replication of the home created by the fictional characters in the series.
  • The museum will open in May 2020, following renovations, and is open 11:00am to 4:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays, between May and October.
  • The museum is located at 1 South Main Street, Putnam, CT, 06260 and admission is free.

James Merrill House

  • The location has been kept largely intact since Merrill's death in 1995, and is offered rent-free to aspiring authors and poets as a writer's retreat. The James Merrill House also supports writer-in-residence events, such as readings, throughout the Connecticut area.
  • The James Merrill House is open to the public four afternoons a year, or by appointment.
  • The James Merrill House is located at 107 Water St., Stonington, CT, 06378.

Buttolph-Williams House

  • The Buttolph-Williams House is a landmark museum, whose architecture and interior reflects pilgrim life in New England in the 17th century. The house was the inspiration for the setting in 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond', a John Newberry medal-winning, 1958 novel, by local Connecticut author, Elizabeth George Speare. The book tells the story of a young girl living in small-town, 17th century Connecticut, and addresses issues such as prejudice, superstition, and illiteracy.
  • One of four historic houses in the Webb-Deane-Stevens museum, the Buttolph-Williams House is open May through October, Tuesdays, 10:00am to 4:00pm, and Sundays, 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
  • The Buttolph-Williams House is located at 211 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT, 06109.

Amy-Archer Gilligan House

  • This home was the scene of a systematic poisoning by Amy Archer-Gilligan, who ran a home for the elderly, and was found to have poisoned dozens of residents in her care to create space for new residents. The home was once referred to as a 'murder factory', and the story was adapted by a New York playwright, Joseph Kesselring, into a play called Arsenic and Old Lace. After significant success on Broadway, Frank Kapra brought the story to the silver screen.
  • The house is abandoned, but still a private residence. Photography is permitted and decorum is expected.
  • The house is located at 37 Prospect Street, Windsor, CT, 06095

The Storyteller's Cottage

  • The Storyteller's Cottage hosts literary events and offers numerous unique activities. Located in a Victorian house in Simsbury, this venue hosts a wide range of literary activities including writing workshops and retreats, storytelling, and Victorian-themed murder mystery events.
  • Named one of the best new cultural attractions in Connecticut by Yankee Travel in 2018, the Storyteller's Cottage links literary history with unique events, such as The Alice in Wonderland room for small group meetings and the Jane Austen Regency Salon, which offers writers classes. The Storyteller's Cottage is also recognized as a location that features readings and book talks by famous local authors.
  • The Storyteller's Cottage is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10:00am and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00pm.
  • The Storyteller's Cottage is located at 750 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, CT, 06070.

The Jumping Frog

  • The Jumping Frog is a used book store specializing in rare, antique and autographed books, and is named after the Mark Twain short story, "The Jumping Calaveras Frog of Calaveras County."
  • With a 4.5/5.0 consumer rating on Google across 13 reviews, visitors cite the incredible collection, access to rare and significant books, and reasonable prices of the Jumping Frog.
  • The Jumping Frog bookstore is open Thursday to Sunday, 11:00am to 4:00pm.
  • The Jumping Frog bookstore is located at 56 Arbor St., Hartford, CT, 06106.

The Pond House Cafe at Elizabeth Park

  • The Pond House Cafe is located on Elizabeth Park, a 100-acre park which includes gardens, walking trails, and recreational spaces. The park inspired 3 poems by Wallace Stevens, a major American poet who resided in Connecticut until his death in 1955.
  • Every visit to the Cafe supports the Elizabeth Park conservatory.
  • The Pond House Cafe is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch at 11:00am and dinner at 4:30pm. Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday starting at 9:30am.
  • The Pond House Cafe at Elizabeth Park is located at 1555 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT, 06117.

The Study at Yale

  • The Study at Yale is a hotel located on Yale's campus in New Haven offering hand-selected books in every study and suite. The hotel hosts numerous literary events to support and showcase local authors, who are primarily Yale alumni. The hotel also highlights literary-related venues beyond the hotel, such as the Beinecke rare book and manuscript library at Yale, and supports local emerging writers through a writer-in-residence program.
  • The Study at Yale was one of five literary-themed hotels recommended by Connecticut Magazine in New England, and the hotel received 4.6/5.0 stars across 242 Google reviews.
  • The Study at Yale is located at 1157 Chapel St., New Haven, CT, 06511.

Atticus Bookstore and Cafe

  • Considered a top literary landmark in Connecticut, the Atticus Bookstore and Cafe began as a bookstore in 1976 and expanded to include a cafe in 1981. The venue is recommended for book lovers and is known to attract famous clientele, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.
  • The Atticus Bookstore and Cafe focuses on quality both in their book selection and food. Customers rate Atticus Bookstore and Cafe 4.5/5.0 stars on Google across 433 reviews, citing their diverse selection of books and great-tasting food.
  • Atticus Bookstore and Cafe hours are Monday-Saturday, 7:00am to 9:00pm and Sunday, 8:00am to 8:00pm.
  • Atticus Bookstore and Cafe is located next to the Yale Repertory Theater, at 1082 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, 06510.

Library Wine Bar and Bistro

  • The Library Wine Bar and Bistro, a Portuguese and Meditteranean-themed restaurant in Wallingford, CT, occupies a building which formerly housed Wallingford's first public library. The library was built by Samuel Simpson, a Wallingford policitian inspired by his daughter, whose passion it was to offer a gathering space for women to collect books and raise money for various causes. Her work was instrumental in helping to pass the Ladies Library and Reading Room Association legislation in 1882 and the library was built in her memory.
  • The library closed and moved locations in 1982, and the restaurant was subsequently restored to maintain the library's history and architectural detail, while subtly incorporating modern conveniences.
  • The Library Wine Bar and Bistro was recommended as one of 18 unique restaurant experiences in Connecticut by Connecticut's Office of Tourism.
  • The restaurant is open for lunch starting at 11:30am, dinner starting at 4:00pm, and brunch on Sunday.
  • The Library Wine Bar and Bistro is located at 60 North Main St., Wallingford, CT, 06492.

Research Strategy

To identify up to 10 additional historical literature-based sites in Connecticut, beyond those uncovered in early research, we identified numerous literary-focused site recommendation lists, discussions of literary tours, and sites that focused on top attractions in Connecticut and New England. The ten locations discussed above all have a historical literary association, including museums based on famous authors, sites in which famous authors lived, settings which inspired famous writings, venues which include historical literary works and support other literary-focused venues and events, or locations frequented by celebrated writers.

  • "The Gertrude Chandler Warren Boxcar Children's Museum: A lifelong Putnam resident, Warner was best known for The Boxcar Children, published in 1924. The Aspinock Historical Society acquired an authentic 1920s boxcar and opened the museum in 2004."
  • "James Merrill House: Connecticut’s first poet laureate was the son of the co-founder of Merrill Lynch. He won the Bollingen Prize in 1973, National Book Awards in 1967 and 1979 and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977."
  • "The historic Buttolph-Williams House on Broad Street in Wethersfield, with its romantic interiors and colonial – and somewhat medieval-looking – architecture, inspired the setting for local author Elizabeth George Speare’s classic young adult novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Not only does Kit, the book’s protagonist, live in the fictionalized version of this Connecticut landmark, but other places in the novel can also be traced to real-life settings in Wethersfield. Wethersfield Cove is the real Blackbird Pond; Great Meadows, the only place Kit really feels at home in Wethersfield, is a stretch of land along the west side of the Connecticut River; and the Congregational Church in which Kit stood accused of witchcraft is based on the First Church of Christ on Main Street. "
  • "Arsenic and Old Lace: The unremarkable brick house at 37 Prospect Street, a quiet suburban street in Windsor, was once referred to by the Hartford Courant as a “murder factory.” Here, Amy Archer-Gilligan, who ran a home for the aged in the early 1900s, systematically poisoned more than two dozen residents over a period of 10 years to make room for other paying customers – and inspired playwright Joseph Kesselring to write the play Arsenic and Old Lace, a comic retelling of Gilligan’s crime story."
  • "Connecticut remains fertile ground for literary talent. Among the many writers residing here today are Stephanie Meyers of Twilight fame, Eat Pray Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert, and the prolific Wally Lamb, whose latest novel is I’ll Take You There. Local authors can be seen (and heard) at readings and book talks in the few remaining independent bookstores scattered around our state, as well as at libraries and venues like the Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury, adding to the abundant selection of our region’s literary destinations."
  • "The Jumping Frog: Named for Mark Twain’s short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” this used book store is stacked with bargain hardbacks in subjects that run the gamut—art and photography, military history, presidential topics, music, transportation and so forth. Some higher-cost finds include rare editions and autographed copies. "
  • "The Pond House Cafe at Elizabeth Park: Wallace Stevens lived near and spent time at this over 100-acre park between Hartford and West Hartford. He even wrote three poems inspired by it: “Vacancy in the Park,” “Nuns Painting Water-Lillies” and “The Plain Sense of Things.” Among its horticultural gardens, the park contains the first municipal rose garden in the U.S. "
  • "The Pond House Cafe at Elizabeth Park: There are also two gazebos, four greenhouses, two bridges and a pond along with tennis and basketball courts, Little League and softball fields, playgrounds and tracks and trails. Dine at the Pond House Cafe, which has gotten accolades for its Sunday brunch and draws from its vegetable and herb garden for its seasonal menu. "
  • "The Study at Yale: Just by staying the night at the Study at Yale, guests might pore through an author’s oeuvre or write the perfect opening chapter. "
  • "In any case, the hotel is still a literary locale with its intellectual clientele, leather reading chairs, and hand-selected books on the shelves in every study and suite. "
  • "Our vintage Victorian house is the home of charming literary events, curious & unconventional literary societies, writer's workshops and retreats, storytelling events, author salons, unique literary-themed mystery rooms, and much more."