Fine Living in Litchfield County, the Berkshires, Dutchess County and Beyond
Passport SPRING 2016
Arts • Dining • Gardens • Passport to Education • Properties • Style
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4 Passport SPRING 2016
Contents: Spring 2016
Passport sections 7 Passport Picks P irelli World Challenge; Gordon Lightfoot; ‘Sister Act’; ‘Alergist’s Wife’; Dover String Quartet; ‘Let It Be’; Cooking ‘Comfort Desserts’. 12 Prime Passion Passionate Team Highlights County’s Hidden Treasures.
18 Passport to Education F our Schools Are Looking to Change Football Programs.
16 Passport to Education M usic Teacher Opens Studio in Bantam To Inspire Students Across the Globe.
20 Highly Palatable Custom Cocktails Made on Demand by Creative Liquor Master. 24 Seeking the Sun Farm Inspires Writer, Photographer to Transform Food Into Art.
32 Passport to Country Properties istoric Wilcox Tavern Was Once a WayH Stop for 18th- and 19th-century Travelers.
28 Passport to Country Properties Charming Fox Hollow Farm On the Market. Fine Living in Litchfield County, the Berkshires, Dutchess County and Beyond
Passport SPRING 2016
37 Past Perfect Highly Visibile Location, Eclectic Assortment are Key to Downtown Antique Center’s Success. 41 Style File T houghtful, Elegant Styles a Feature at New Preston Shop.
Arts • Dining • Gardens • Passport to Education • Properties • Style
On the Cover: A purple tulip seen in Torrington from the spring of 2015. Photo by Viktoria Sundqvist
46 Denouement Soon, Winter Will Finally Give Way to Spring.
SPRING 2016 Passport 5
From Instruments to Garden Treasures
here’s no shortage of art galleries, restaurants and noteworthy gems in our region. We frequently highlight many of them here in our magazine. But Lora Warnick and Beverley Canepari are taking it a step further with their new blog, Unlocking Litchfield. The two women go out of their way to find the hidden treasures in Litchfield County. They find the story behind the story. They find the people with something to say. And they do a wonderful job digging into and experiencing first-hand the world of everything from Arethusa Farm to the wonders of Morrison Gallery. They put the spotlight on local businesses. But most of all, they have fun. Read more about them in our Prime Passion section. Someone else who is passionate about what he does is James Lenger, who recently opened a music school and studio in the Bantam section of Litchfield. Lenger has opened four music schools worldwide, but his fifth – Sharp and Flat – is different. It’s a new brand of school that caters to a mix of both children and adults, and it features a low-stress way for urban professionals to learn an instrument. On the top floor of an old factory building on Bantam Road, Lenger will teach anyone any instrument – although he is most familiar with the keyboard and the guitar. His main goal is to motivate people to create music. But beware – he may give you a tough assignment! Read more about Lenger and his music studio in our Passport to Education section. If you really want an assignment, I have one for you. Pick up Amy Goldman’s new book, “Heirloom Harvest: Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures.” Together with photographer Jerry Spagnoli, she is showing that vegetables can be sexy and beautiful. Goldman grows heirloom crops at her farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and Spagnoli photographs them in his New York studio. Together, they came to see the beauty in imperfection – warts and all – on the vegetables. As writer Tovah Martin describes it, “Every fruit and vegetable has innate glory; every piece of land has a story to tell; every parcel has the potential of creating its own crops.” If this sounds intriguing, turn to our section called Seeking the Sun. The final highlight of this issue is a new store in New Preston called Plain Goods. Featuring anything from cashmere scarves and hats to babies’ clothing and local spices, it’s a shop where you will only find items owners Michael DePerno and Andrew Fry are passionate about. With backgrounds in art, interior design and fashion marketing, the two put a focus on clean, sophisticated objects – whether furniture, fabrics or clothing – and have recently added a line of beauty care products. Read more about the store, which is anything but plain, in our Style File section.
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Passport A Magazine of The Litchfield County Times 59 Field Street Torrington, CT 06790 Telephone: 860-489-3121 Website: Passport-Mag.com EDITOR
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PASSPORT PICKS Live music from Gordon Lightfoot and the Dover String Quartet, comfort food cooking classes, local theater productions, a Beatles revival and a weekend of car racing and vintage beauties — all this takes place in Litchfield County and the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts this spring.
Lime Rock Park will be home to the Pirelli World Challenge this Memorial Day Weekend.
Pirelli World Challenge Big Memorial Day Weekend Event
he Pirelli World Challenge at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville takes place on Memorial Day weekend. Organizers say it has long been a favorite of Lime Rock Park fans, so after a three-year absence, PWC is
roaring back for 2016. Four big races will be held throughout the weekend, May 27-29. “Fans will see history made as the first three races of the all-new United States Formula 4 open-wheel
championship debuts,” according to the Lime Rock website. U.S. F4 singleseaters are identical Honda-powered carbon fiber cars with 160 horsepower, sequential gearboxes, Pirelli racing slicks and front and rear wings. SPRING 2016 Passport 7
“PWC is a veritable hotbed of production- and production-based classes,” the website reads. “The big dog division is GT, where the biggest, baddest racing machines from Audi, Cadillac, Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Acura, Nissan, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, Viper, Mercedes and McLaren bare their fangs in frantic one hour showdowns.” The GTS division features a lot of the same manufacturers as GT, but the cars are closer to street spec, according to Lime Rock organizers. “Don’t be fooled – the races for GTS honors are just as crazy – and it’s where Kia, Hyundai, Subaru and Scion choose to do battle with Camaros, Mustangs, Porsches, Audis, Astons and Nissans,” the Lime Rock website reads. “The GT Cup class is comprised of all Porsche 911s, the cars nearly identical to the 911s in the hugely popular Porsche CT3 Cup series that supports many Formula 1 races around the globe.” To top it off, Torrington’s own
Royals Garage, a community supporter and mainstay in the local world of show-quality automobiles, is holding its annual car show all weekend. Tickets are available for the entire weekend or a single day. Visit limerock.com for details, reservations and directions.
Gordon Lightfoot at the Warner Theatre Gordon Lightfoot performs at the Warner Theatre on Thursday, April 14, at 8 p.m. It’s a chance to see what many regard as a living legend who has successfully blended folk and popular music into incomparable storytelling. “After 50 active years of hit song making and international album sales well into the multi-millions, it’s safe to say that esteemed singer-songwriter and musician Gordon Lightfoot resides with some very exclusive company atop the list of all-time greats,” event organizers say. “His song catalog is incredibly vast and includes such immortals as ‘Early Morning
Gordon Lightfoot Rain,’ ‘If You Could Read My Mind,’ ‘Carefree Highway,’ ‘Sundown,’ ‘(That’s What You Get) For Lovin Me,’ ‘The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald,’ ‘Canadian Railroad Trilogy,’ ‘Ribbon Of Darkness,’ ‘Beautiful,’ ‘Song For A Winter’s Night’ and ‘Rainy Day People’ and many more.” This year is special for the legendary artist, who has announced plans for a cross-country tour,
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“Gordon Lightfoot — 50 Years On The Carefree Highway.” Audiences can expect to hear his well-known hits as well as some deep album cuts for the die-hard fanatics, all woven together with his stories and personal anecdotes about his historic 50-year musical career. Lightfoot has recorded 20 albums and has five Grammy nominations. His songs have been aired regularly for 50 years, earning him radio singles chart positions in North America achieved by few others. Lightfoot has also found fortune in having his songs recorded and performed by other great artists, including Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Judy Collins, Johnny Mathis, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Peter Paul & Mary, Harry Belafonte, Jane’s Addiction, Richie Havens, Glen Campbell, Toby Keith and George Hamilton IV. For tickets, go to warnertheatre.org or call the box office at 860-489-7180.
‘Sister Act’ at the Thomaston Opera House “Sister Act” tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a “wannabe diva” whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look—a convent. Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. It’s a sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, according to show producers. Whoopi Goldberg made her mark with the film version of the story and earned equal success in the sequel, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” She was joined by Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy and a cast of ladies in habits who sang their hearts out, and Harvey Keitel played her mobsterhit-man boyfriend.
The Thomaston Opera House on Main Street in Thomaston.
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SPRING 2016 Passport 9
“Sister Act” takes the main stage of the Thomaston Opera House, 158 Main St., Thomaston, between April 16-17, 22-24, 29-30, and May 1, with evening and matinee performances available. Tickets range from $19 to $25 and are available at landmarkcommunitytheatre.org.
‘Allergist’s Wife’ Coming to TheatreWorks New Milford “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” written by Charles Busch, is the spring production at TheatreWorks New Milford. The play tells the story of Marjorie Taub, a middle-aged Upper West Side doctor’s wife. She is devoted to mornings at the Whitney, afternoons at MOMA and evenings at BAM. Plunged into a mid-life crisis of Medealike proportions, she’s shaken out of her lethargy by the reappearance of a fascinating and somewhat mysterious childhood friend. Can Marjorie, her long-suffering mother and her loving
husband Ira, a board-certified allergist, survive the shake-up? This comedy received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play of 2001. TheatreWorks is on Brookside Avenue, New Milford. Evening and matinee performances will be held April 29-30, May 5-7, 13-15 and 20-21. Ticket prices vary. Order tickets at theatreworks.us.
Dover String Quartet at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center “Dover String Quartet: The Arts of the String Quartet” will join the Close Encounters with Music Series at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on Saturday, May 14, at 6 p.m. The Dover String Quartet has been dubbed by The New Yorker as “the young American string quartet of the moment,” and catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International
The Dover String Quartet. String Quartet Competition. The program’s triad of Beethoven, Dvořák and Alban Berg offers up the “American” Quartet, a triumph of Dvořák’s astonishing melodic vision, disarming immediacy, Beethoven’s cosmic “Razumov-sky” Quartet; and Alban Berg’s Second String Quartet Op. 3 (1908), written during a turbulent courtship with his wife-to-be, Helene. Tickets for the string quartet show range from $25 to $45 and can be ordered online at www.mahaiwe.org/ CloseEncountersArtsStringQuartet.
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‘Let It Be’ Comes to Palace Theater in Waterbury “Let It Be,” a London-based show giving tribute to the Beatles, comes to the Palace Theater in Waterbury on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 16, at 2 and 8 p.m. “Let it Be” has been seen by more than a million people worldwide, according to the show’s website, letitbelive.com. This musical experience is packed with over 40 of The Beatles’ greatest hits. Audiences can relive The Beatles’ meteoric rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, through the heights of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces, with live performances of early tracks including “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You” and “Drive My Car,” as well as global mega-hits “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” “Come Together” and, of course, “Let It Be,” according to the show’s site. Tickets are available for this show by visiting www.palacetheaterct.org.
Cooking class to focus on ‘Comfort Desserts’ “Comfort Desserts” is a cooking class with a focus on “the foods we remember” at Wisdom House in Litchfield. Chef Margaret Jacobs leads her students with her love for cooking. She says: “Remembering is everything. And, when it comes to food, it’s all about the flavors we remember: the rice pudding, the real pound cake, apricot bread pudding and lemon pudding cake. Come and see them in the making and taste and see if they are as you remember them.” Recipes will be provided, according to Wisdom House. “Comfort Desserts” will be held Wednesday, April 27, from 6-7:30 p.m. The cost is $30 per person. Wisdom House and Retreat Center is located at 229 East Litchfield Road,
This London-based show will pay tribute to The Beatles with performances in Waterbury. Litchfield, and can be reached by phone at 860-567-3163. Reserve a spot for this class
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SPRING 2016 Passport 11
Above photo by Tim Lenz/Bottom photo by Brian Pontolilo
Above, Beverley Canepari and Lora Warnick model R. Derwin Clothiers selections. Below, Warnick and Canepari at Charym in Litchfield.
Unlocking Litchfield Passionate Team Highlights County’s Hidden Treasures n Written by JOH N F I T T S
t was just about a year ago when Lora Warnick and Beverley Canepari hatched the idea for Unlocking Litchfield (unlockinglitchfield .com). Since then they’ve had no shortage of fun as they’ve highlighted some of the county’s most recognizable faces and places, its country charm, notable businesses, hidden treasures and obscure pastimes. The journey has allowed them to model a clothing line from Clinton 12 Passport SPRING 2016
Kelly of “What Not to Wear” at Morrison Gallery in Kent, enter hair heaven at noted stylist Scott Bond’s home, keep company with some of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces at a Housatonic Valley Association auction, delve into all things Arethusa and enjoy fine gin and bourbon at Litchfield Distillery. Each assignment on the website is done with the help of videographer and Ridgefield High senior Tim Lenz. Like many modern outlets, the stories are a combination of the written word, video and photography. Warnick and Canepari become part of the story. They are excited to try
the latest fashions, undergo treatment from make-up and hair artists, and pose with their subjects. Nearly every post includes a video and photos from Lenz, Warnick’s photography and Canepari’s writing. The ladies aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and have sojourned to Modern Paintball in Falls Village, the Norfolk Curling Club and waded the county’s most famous fly fishing destination with Housatonic River Outfitters. “We’ll try anything within reason,” said Warnick, the site’s photographer. “That’s the fulfilling part to us. We’re introducing people to businesses in the county. I feel like we’re helping business and residents… and we get to have fun.” “Which is the main goal in life,” Canepari added. And that is no understatement. Everything with Warnick and Canepari exudes fun. Their laughter is near constant and you won’t likely see them at a planning and zoning meeting any time soon. A recent interview they conducted with husband-and-wife WFSB journalists Dennis House and Kara Sundlun, timed for Valentine’s Day, included questions about how the couple manages to balance their work life and children, and also keep a healthy relationship. While House and Sundlun live in Hartford, the segment was filmed at 19 Bank St. in New Milford, a new wedding and special events venue, again looking to showcase a county business. More recently the pair have added a getaways section to the site, featuring places such in Maine and New York City. They’ve faced some questions for such a decision, but the two feel that the section continues the fun aspect of the site, gives people a great idea for day trips and even helps local businesses. Out-of-state visitors who read those stories sometimes read posts featuring Litchfield County locales. Additionally, places with large social media followings are using social media to connect people with the site, they said. “Maybe those people will be like
Photo by Billy Morrison
Lora Warnick and Beverley Canepari with Liam Neeson at Morrison Gallery in Kent. for Connecticut.” The idea for Unlocking Litchfield came pretty quickly. The two had been acquaintances and Canepari offered to accompany Warnick to a fashion show in New York City. The plan was hatched during the train ride to the show. “We just decided that Litchfield County needed a blog of its own,” Canepari said. “We just started talking about it and two months later our first blog post was up,” Warnick added. Canepari said Warnick had a marketing team “the next day” and area professionals helped customize a Wordpress site, come up with logos Photo by Sierra Zaborowski
Warnick and Canepari model Lord & Taylor clothing at William Pitt Sotheby’s listed home in Litchfield County. ‘why don’t we go to Connecticut for the weekend?’ ” Warnick said. “We kind of feel like we’re helping tourism
and more. That first post – on tax day last year – featured The White Horse Country Pub in the Marbledale section of Washington, Conn. “The main thing that people are saying is just that Litchfield County needed something like this. People are really excited about it,” Canepari said. SPRING 2016 Passport 13
Photos by John Fitts
On the Green in New Milford, above, Beverley Canepari and Lora Warnick work on their intro before interviewing husband and wife news anchors Dennis House and Kara Sundlun. Below, at the White Horse Country Pub in the Marbledale section of Washington. White Horse owner John Harris is certainly a fan. While he, of course, appreciates the coverage of his own business, he also said the blog is great for the entire county. “Unlocking Litchfield is a terrific publication with much quality and class,” Harris said. “The stories are diverse and interesting, the photographs superb.” But it’s not always easy. The two have full-time jobs. In addition to the blog and her own photography business, Warnick is a project coordinator at Theatre Projects. Canepari is an administrative director at Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp in New Milford and a fitness instructor. In fact, the two met when Warnick took one of her classes. Running the site, coordinating interviews, writing, editing photos and other aspects are time consuming, they said. “On my lunch hour, I do only blog work,” Warnick said. “It’s a lot, but it doesn’t feel like work.” “This is a creative outlet for us,” Canepari said. The two are quite happy with their jobs and aren’t looking to become fulltime journalists, but are also open to 14 Passport SPRING 2016
whatever comes next. Recently the site has begun to sell ads, and some features like the holiday guides contain paid content. But the two retain creative control and don’t show stories to sources before publication, they said. Additionally, they get more requests for coverage than they can keep up with. The two wanted to establish the site before it could begin to bring some income, but they aren’t looking to quit their day jobs. However, they aren’t setting any limits either. “We’re open to what the universe offers,” Canepari said.
The two also feel they can offer a fresh perspective. Both live in New Milford and Canepari moved to the county in 1994, Warnick in 2011. Sometimes a fresh look can unveil new places and both love living in the area, they said. Since Unlocking Litchfield, both say they are even more enthralled. “Now that we’ve been doing it, I love Litchfield County even more,” Warnick said. In addition to the website at unlockinglitchfield.com, you can follow @unlockingCT on Twitter and @unlockinglitchfield on Instagram.
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Passport to Education: Music
Above: The music studio is set up on the top floor in an old factory building at 931 Bantam Road in Litchfield. Below: James Lenger.
Living His Dream Music Teacher Opens Studio in Bantam To Inspire Students Across the Globe n Written and Photographed by C AT H E R I N E GUA R N I E R I
ames Lenger has built his music businesses much like the chords and arpeggios that he teaches to his students — constructing layer by layer until a strong foundation for a musical composition has been assembled. Over his 23 years of teaching instruments, theory and composition, Lenger has opened four music schools worldwide and aims to open his fifth, Sharp and Flat, in Bantam. All four of his Guitar Cities schools are still running strong, from New York, San Francisco and Chicago, all the way to London, but he hopes to make Sharp and Flat a new brand of school that caters to a mix of 16 Passport SPRING 2016
both children and adults. Lenger’s first four schools were founded in the cities’ financial districts and catered mainly to adults, providing an easy and low-stress way for urban professionals to learn an instrument or go further, with theory and composition. He has a unique method of teaching his students from all over the country, and the world, using Skype to provide face time. He also enjoys travel and checks in occasionally with his other offices and instructors. Lenger, a native of Michigan, began music instruction at age 16 for a local music school. After a brief period of teaching, he and his band The Green Room spent several years touring the country and played at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. His dream, though, was to start a music
school, so Lenger did exactly that in Chicago in 2006. He spent the next 10 years expanding Guitar Cities into its current incarnations. Lenger’s latest studio is on the top floor of an old factory building at 931 Bantam Road in Litchfield. The space is spartan, but at the same time comfortable, furnished with easy chairs and a sofa, and dotted with guitars, keyboards, tape decks and amplifiers. Though Lenger is most familiar with guitar and keyboard, he says he will
teach anyone any instrument. He approaches each instrument as a lesson in physics, and string theory, and once he has a baseline to relate to with an instrument, he is able to get a good idea of how to play it. His approach gives him an advantage that allows him to easily diversify his clientele. But Lenger’s main concern is bringing a sense of community to those learning an instrument. “I want to motivate people of all ages to have a love for learning music as much as I enjoyed it,” he says. Hence his move to Litchfield. Lenger says Litchfield County reminds him a great deal of his old Michigan home, and he hopes to set down roots here. Presently, Lenger’s students range in age from young children to 50- and 60-year-old pupils. He loves to give his protégés assignments such as “write a composition that is indicative of the years 1959 to 1964.” Such an assignment, Lenger says, requires his student to think about the technology available at the time, what sounds, effects and amplifiers would have been around, the tone of the music being produced and other cultural and political factors that would affect a song. “You would have to put yourself in the minds of the era,” he says. “I like to ask ‘What would George Harrison have written in 1963… or 66 or 69?’ There are just so many things to think about. “I love that one of my students will turn 62 this year and she is writing songs that sound like they came right out of the ’60s. She lived it and hadn’t listened to too much new music, so that was her experience. She’s an extension of that era.” Lenger says he would like to reach a lot of people through instruction, rather than putting himself out to the public now, and has become somewhat introspective, preferring to help his students grow and inspire others in turn, rather than perform himself. Even so, Lenger is a remarkably busy man, with a typical day running from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. In addition to teaching students in multiple cities via Skype, Lenger is an accomplished
Lenger says he will teach anyone any instrument, and there is no age limit for learning. pentathlete and Olympic hopeful, ranked number 12. He found his inspiration from his mother, who died recently. He hopes to continue his Olympic training and train his music students as well, he says.
Sharp and Flat offers an introductory 30-minute lesson for $15 and subsequent lessons are $35 for 30 minutes. More information can be found at sharpandflat.com, and prospective students can sign up for lessons online as well.
SUMMER PROGRAMS: Empowering Young Women in Engineering, Finance, & Politics for Girls Entering Grades 7, 8, & 9 Two sessions: July 10-15 & July 17-22 For more information about Westover’s Summer Programs, e-mail the Summer Programs Director at [email protected]
or call 203.758.2423. WESTOVERSCHOOL.ORG • MIDDLEBURY, CONNECTICUT
SPRING 2016 Passport 17
Passport to Education: Athletics
Eight-Man Teams Four Schools Looking to Change Football Programs n Written by P E T E R WA LL AC E Photographs contributed
our area prep schools have taken the lead in a football phenomenon that just might sweep the small high school landscape. Forman, The Gunnery, Millbrook and Pomfret are forming a league of eight-man football teams planning to begin play this fall. Why should three less players make a difference? Start with these excerpts from a story by Julie Mack at MLive.com from 2013, titled “8-man football
18 Passport SPRING 2016
Eight-man football will provide an alternative for schools struggling to find players. provides alternative for schools struggling to field teams,” about its impact on a small high school in Michigan. “A year ago, Lawrence High School officials took stock of their football pro-
gram and the picture was not pretty,” Mack writes. “A major stumbling block to improving the program was simply finding enough bodies: Lawrence only has about 100 high school boys, and a
In 8-man football, the field is narrower and passing becomes key, officials said. decent football program with varsity and junior varsity squads would need at least a third of them to play the sport – a challenging prospect considering the other sports and extracurriculars vying for students.” It’s familiar terrain in this area for public and private schools alike. Lawrence switched to eight-man football. The four area prep schools are doing it on a two-year trial basis. If their experience is like that of Lawrence, they’ll stick with it. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us,” Lawrence Athletic Director Eric Adams told MLive.com after the switch. “The fan base has really increased. More kids are showing an interest in competing. People can really see the benefits.” But still, three fewer people? “We were down to 25 people last year, where we’ve had 35 or 40 people in the past,” said Scott McCarty, athletic director at The Forman School in Litchfield, with about 220 students. “In eight-man football, with 18 or 19 kids, you can practice.”
Forman, established in 1930, has had a traditional football program for the past 18 years, along with The Gunnery and Pomfret. Millbrook will begin football with this program, officials said. “The headmasters from The Gunnery School and Pomfret (Peter Becker and Tim Richards) were talking about it last fall and asked if we’d be interested,” said Forman Headmaster Adam Man. “I said we would. It’s a faster game, a lighter game and it made a lot of sense to play schools in closer proximity.” “The league we’ve been playing in (the Hudson Valley Athletic League) has gotten bigger,” said McCarty. “We’re travelling to New Jersey. The schools we’re playing now, we know.” But finally, it’s the game that sells itself. “Eight-man football is still about blocking, tackling and hitting,” says an online guide to the variation. The playing difference comes from the positions from which the three players are removed and the different
strategies involved in those absences. On offense, it generally results in a three-man backfield. On defense, either the secondary is cut or the line – opening either new running or passing lanes and more scoring possibilities. The field is also narrowed. In sideline spots, no longer is a sweep available on either side. Passing becomes a key. Still, for all the benefits of the game, it’s the personal aspects that are most compelling for the four prep schools involved. “These schools are doing it for philosophical reasons as well as economic,” said McCarty. “At Forman, we stay away from specialization. We try to find kids who can come to our school and make a difference – not just for football. We look for the complete child.” The elephant in the sports world is concussions, especially in a heavy contact sport like football. “Our headmasters want to change the approach to football,” said McCarty. “With this new alignment, you don’t have to be 240 pounds.” SPRING 2016 Passport 19
Mixologist Jamie Monahan shows off her skills in making a diablito cocktail.
Mixing it Up Custom Cocktails Made on Demand by Creative Liquor Master n Written and Photographed by C AT H E R I N E GUA R N I E R I
here’s a new mixologist in town, and she is looking to shake up the way cocktails are served in
20 Passport SPRING 2016
Litchfield County. Jamie Monahan, a recent transplant from New York City, is the newest addition to the Community Table team, and her spirited creations are perhaps more alchemy than the usual bartending. Monahan grew up in a military family, experiencing a great many cultures and spending a great deal
of her early years in Japan with her family. At age 18 she went to college in Virginia, and immediately after graduating, she traveled to New York City as her aspiration was actually to become an actress. But as most aspiring actors find, you need to eat and have a place to live, so Monahan waitressed. One afternoon she walked into a bar which had a lot of tables, so she assumed the bar had a server. She asked if the bar was hiring, and was told “no.” She said “OK, thanks,” but was called back and started bartending that week, with only two days of training. And so began her unexpected career. Monahan soon moved on to Tao, a famous NYC restaurant featuring Asian fusion cuisine. There she significantly upped her game, becoming familiar with a wider variety of alcohols and learning to pair cocktails with cuisine, design cocktail menus and deal with a wider variety of clientele. She found that her earlier years spent in Japan came in handy, giving her a good perspective on genuine Asian cuisine and distilled beverages.
After Tao, she moved on to another New York favorite, Fig and Olive, learning to give a Mediterranean spin to her formulations, and then moved on to McCoys, a popular Irish pub. After five-and-a-half years in the city, she felt she needed a break. Her parents had settled in Litchfield, so Monahan came to Connecticut and continued mixing delicious brews at Community Table. When asked “What is the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?” Monahan said, “A bartender has a fixed repertoire of drinks that they can make… not every bartender knows every drink, but the good ones know quite a few. A mixologist on the other hand, takes a standard drink recipe and puts a new spin on it. Cocktails are culinary and mixologists can go against the rules.” Monahan says that pairing cocktails with cuisine is popular now, and she uses a great deal of her creativity to make the pairings work. Dessert beers are also a favorite choice, some imitating the taste of crème brulee, or orange cream. Monahan’s favorite concoctions use infusions to flavor the alcohol. A botanist friend taught her how to infuse gin and other distilled alcohols with herbs such as lavender, rosemary and even teas. She also likes to use a variety of simple syrups made with agave, brown sugar or honey. Each lends its unique flavor to the cocktail. She finds that infusing the alcohols herself makes for the tastiest cocktails. Nearly any flavorful food can be used to infuse an alcohol, she says, citing apples, jalapeno peppers, coffee beans or spices as some of her favorites. For those unsure of how to infuse an alcohol, she refers those interested to look online for flavoring kits. As for differences between New York and Connecticut imbibers? Monahan says New Yorkers are partial to out-of-the-ordinary combinations – the stranger, the better. But she has found that Litchfield County drinkers have sophisticated tastes, albeit slightly “quainter” than in New York. She is also encouraged by the emergence of
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be friendly, entertaining and watchful that everyone goes home happy but not overserved.” For now, Monahan will be serving her customers at Community Table while popping back to New York for the occasional audition. She aspires to get a part in a Broadway musical or in an HBO or Showtime series. She can sing, dance, act and play a few instruments, but for now is content to continue her study of human nature and help her clients have a great time. If you’d like to follow Jamie Monahan’s journey, her website is at www.jamie monahan.com or follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @jmemonahan.
JAMIE’S COCKTAIL RECIPES Diablito (Little Devil) Two Fresh Strawberries Two Small Pieces Jalapeño 2oz El Buho Mezcal 1/2oz Fresh Lime Juice 1 Egg White Muddle the strawberries and jalapeño together. Add ingredients and dry shake (without ice) for 10 seconds. Add ice, shake and strain. Garnish with a thin slice of jalapeño. If you feel adventurous infuse your tequila with jalapeño or pink peppercorn. Cold Brew Martini 2oz Tito’s Vodka 1/2oz Caffee Moka Varnelli 1oz Heavy Cream (try to buy local if you can, it tastes better) Splash Cold Brewed Coffee Shake ingredients together with ice and strain. Garnish with coffee beans.
Seeking the Sun
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The cover for “Heirloom Harvest,” featuring a Swiss chard. 24 Passport SPRING 2016
Transforming Food into Art Productive Rhinebeck, New York, Farm Inspires Writer, Photographer n Written by T OVA H M A RT I N Photographed by J E R RY SPAGNOL I
lot has happened since the days when Popeye served as a spokesman for spinach. Although that most-beloved-of-allsailormen was clearly thinking in our best interests when he advocated for leafy greens, he was waging an uphill battle. Back in Popeye’s day, vegetables got no respect. Nobody paid a ghost of attention to peppers or eggplants. Kale was not yet on the radar. Broccoli was seen as a nuisance factor. During that interlude, vegetables were the underdogs on the dinner plate. And no wonder the inner beauty lurking in the produce from the farm went totally unnoticed. For Popeye and his generation, vegetables and fruits came in cans. Amy Goldman changed all that. Beginning with “Melons for the Passionate Grower” (Artisan, 2002) and moving along to “The Compleat Squash” (Artisan, 2004) and “The Heirloom Tomato” (Bloomsbury, 2008), Goldman collaborated with photographer Victor Schrager to open our eyes to the rich history of the plants
Sugar maple and white oak. Top left: Hero of Lockinge melons. Top right: Amy Goldman.
on our plates. Suddenly, vegetables were sexy. They have a past and the books expose those deep ethnic roots. Vegetables from all over the world were shown, paired with their legacies. The protagonists in her books went far beyond the single cantaloupe stocked in the supermarket. She trained our taste buds to savor flavors beyond our fondest dreams. Those books put farm fresh food on the map. Of course, Goldman was aided in
her mission by an army of people in the food movement who were making vegetables (beyond potatoes) more prominent on menus. But she introduced us to the raw materials, straight from the field. Farming owes a huge debt of gratitude to Amy Goldman, her adventuresome palette and her artistic eye. And she continues to campaign for cantaloupes and their kin. Just when we thought that all had been revealed in the fruit and vegetable realm, Amy SPRING 2016 Passport 25
Goldman has done it again to expose crops in a different light. This time, her medium is black and white. For “Heirloom Harvest: Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures,” Goldman collaborated with photographer Jerry Spagnoli to publish a large-format edition filled with the most delectable daguerreotypes imaginable. Each haunting photo drips with lip-smacking succulence. You can almost taste the subjects set before the camera. The daguerreotypes are evocatively fresh and educational, chronicling the splendor of heirloom crops at the Rhinebeck, New York, farm that Goldman shares with husband Cary Fowler. But the text is equally riveting. This is the story of a love affair on many levels. Goldman describes her early days on the farm, when she first bought the Abraham Traver house and its 210 acres in 1988. With a multitude of issues, it wasn’t the type of house that would attract most young homeowners. “But the house had a presence,” Goldman recalled in a recent interview. “It had a quirkiness that appealed on a subliminal level; there was something irresistible about the place.” Then she paused to divulge the secret ingredient, “and… I love a challenge.”
Grovery Delaney watermelon The challenge extended beyond the complete overhaul that the house required, from wiring to roofing. The romance also included the land. Few vestiges of the original 18th-century farm remained at the time of purchase, but some of the trees still stood. And Goldman begins her tale of the farm with descriptions of the trees in residence—stately old arboreal fixtures that survived century after century. Unfortunately, some were lost in an October snowstorm that swept the property before they bought the house, and the wrenching storm-torn vestiges
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of tree victims were still visible when they moved in. But Amy Goldman and her then-husband Larry Arno set about to steward what remained. When their daughter, Sara, was born in 1992, she grew up with a strong foundation of land stewardship and a rare appreciation for the full panoply of plants—ranging from her mother’s plentiful melon crops to the several-century-old trees in residence. The loss of a shagbark hickory on the farm last winter hit Sara like the passing of a dear friend. Amy Goldman also learned her respect for vegetables and fruits early in life. Originally, her father was a New York City grocer before he became a real estate investor. So she sidestepped the whole canned food preoccupation that overtook the country in the 1960s and 1970s and learned the value, beauty and taste of fresh produce. When she bought the farm, a vegetable garden was an early project. Good things resulted. Following a friend’s suggestion, she began competing at the Dutchess County Fair and took home so many ribbons that her reputation in the field spread far beyond the fairgrounds. Not only did competition lead to expanded gardens, but it also reaffirmed her fascination with handsome and tasty food. Heirloom vegetables fulfilled both of those descriptions. By growing heirloom varieties, she could wow the neighborhood while also making meals more delectable for her family. Plus, she could preserve a taste sensation that might otherwise slip away. It wasn’t long before Goldman became involved with the Seed Savers Exchange based in Iowa, eventually spending 10 years on their board of directors. Meanwhile, she was working on books to celebrate the melons, squashes and tomatoes that she grew on the farm. The books were what really changed the game for vegetables. Suddenly, fresh food had status. People began to recognize melons in the produce section that they previously greeted with suspicion. The reaction came as a welcome surprise for Goldman.
“When you show people your heart, it’s contagious,” she realized. That was the mindframe when a high school friend linked Goldman together with Spagnoli. His venue was primarily studio-based and definitely city-centric when Goldman began sending vegetables into the Big Apple 15 years ago. “I sent the best looking produce from my garden to Jerry,” Goldman recalls. For 15 years, he faithfully documented the deliveries from her garden in the daguerreotype format without a specific goal in mind. Meanwhile, Spagnoli was getting an education. When he started working with the vegetables, his interaction with fresh Swiss chard was minimal. During the photography process, not only were his eyes opened to the beauty of the food on his plate, but he was awakened to the taste sensation when food is fresh. After photographing food, the produce often appeared on the lunch menu. Goldman was also receiving an education in graphics. Holding a daguerreotype plate in her hands was certainly a sensation beyond most gardeners’ scope of reality. “Jerry is like an alchemist in his studio,” Goldman noted. “The images just float in time and space.” But she also began to recognize the beauty of imperfection. “After 10 years involved with competitive vegetable gardening, I would never consider showing a fruit that wasn’t perfect.” On the other hand, Spagnoli’s discipline depicted nature, warts and all. The transience of vegetables was part of the story. Less-than-perfect fruit was beautiful. It was an awakening worth sharing. Amy Goldman cannot really remember the exact moment when the project evolved into a book. Meanwhile, a love affair was blossoming between Goldman and Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and force behind the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The two were married in 2012. With two seed-centric environmentalists in
residence at the Rhinebeck farm, documenting the produce came to the fore. In 2012, the book took on a life of its own. “That’s when we set about telling the story more deliberately,” Goldman recalls, and Spagnoli began coming to the farm on a regular basis to document the landscape and animals. Opening up the scope of the format beyond close-up photography resulted in a wonderful chemistry between a very primitive method of visual documentation and
a landscape with a past that is forever evolving. From the telling of the tale to design of the book and the printing process, “Heirloom Harvest” was accomplished with worshipful devotion to the arts on all levels. The newly published result will again open our eyes to the bond between land and what it can yield. Every fruit and vegetable has innate glory; every piece of land has a story to tell; every parcel has the potential of creating its own crops. All it takes is reverence and a hoe.
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PASSPORT TO COUNTRY PROPERTIES
Fox Hollow Farm features 15 rooms in the main building and a failry new faux rustic large garage. The property is 67 acres, some of which have been turned into delightful gardens.
Farm Full of Charm Fox Hollow on Market for $1.5 million in Falls Village
28 Passport SPRING 2016
n Written by JOH N T OR SI E LL O Photographed by A N N E DAY
hen one drives slowly up to what is known as Fox Hollow Farm in Falls Village and arrives at the main residence, the eyes move to the left and upward. For perched on a small rise, set among pines and deciduous trees and beyond a freshwater pond that also has an area for swimming, is what Realtor Thomas Callahan aptly refers to as a “Greek folly,” a small yet quite interesting and otherworldly structure replete with white columns. It’s a bit of whimsy that further adds to the understated charm of the property, located off Belden Road in this rather sleepy little niche of northwest Connecticut. “The owners love to place a Christmas tree up there and light it for the holidays,” says Callahan, noting the visitor’s somewhat visual preoccupation with the fanciful structure. One can also imagine whiling summer evenings away with refreshment in hand watching as children and adults splash about in the small pond below, or romp about in the spacious yard. Fox Hollow Farm is a pleasingly rambling home, given a fresh and interesting luster by the present owners, who bought the property from a designer (who imbued the home with her own touches) some 20 years ago. The present owners made their
The property features a one-mile groomed hiking trail and a large field that could be turned into a tennis court.
SPRING 2016 Passport 29
dwelling, well, a place for the family to live, play and work—a retreat of stylish dimensions set amid the natural beauty of the area, surrounded by mature forest and some open fields. Fox Hollow Farm is on the market
for what seems like a modest $1.495 million, considering the 15 or so rooms in the main building and a fairly new faux rustic large garage that both sit on 67 acres, some of which around the home have been turned
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into delightful gardens. There’s also a 1-mile groomed hiking trail ideal for exercising, biking or cross-country skiing on the property. At the trail head is a rather large field once used as a shooting range, but could also serve as a playing field for youngsters or the site for a tennis court. The property is located near the villages of Lakeville and Salisbury, local ski areas and the Appalachian Trail. The home features a two-story living room with a vaulted ceiling and a wraparound balcony as well as a formal dining room, both of which boast fireplaces to keep out the chill of the Litchfield County autumns and wintry blasts coming off the hills to the north and west. Cozy is a word that comes to mind when touring the home of Fox Hollow Farm, as there are various nooks and crannies that serve to create an intimate and private interior out of what is a rather large footprint. The 5,641-square-foot home boasts a rather spacious gourmet kitchen that has a copious center island that can be used for food preparation or relaxed dining, with ample counter and cabinet space and modern appliances. The room is light and airy, with windows letting in sunlight and offering views of the woods and gardens. On one wing of the first floor of the home are several bedrooms with private baths that allow visitors or family privacy. On the second floor of the home, a large master bedroom with a private bath features a standalone tub and a walk-in shower. The bedroom has a fireplace and access to two cedar closets. There is another large room, a loft really, that could be used as a bedroom or play area, as well as a room currently serving as a bedroom, but would do nicely as an office or simply a secluded sitting area. This room has access to an outside terrace, which offers views of the gardens below and the woodlands. In all, there are five bedrooms and five and a half baths in the home.
The floors of the interior are done in wood and terra cotta, making for a pleasing mixture of color and exuding a warmth as one progresses through the abode. There are ample closets, several “mud” rooms, a first-floor study with built-in bookcases, a foyer and a garage. One must mention a large outdoor sitting area on the second floor that makes for ideal summer repasts, with screens letting in the breezes and fresh air of the Northwest hills. There’s also a wet bar in the screenedin porch, ideal for entertaining. The gardens, it might be noted, are quite formal and well-organized and burst with color and fragrance in the spring, summer and fall. They were planted so as to showcase the various specimen trees and bushes located within, as well as a multitude of perennials that add stunning hues to the home’s exterior, which is covered in cedar shakes. Surrounding several sides of the home are patios and walkways made of blue stone. “The home (originally built in 1936) really has a fun history to it,” says Callahan. “It is wonderful as a family retreat, and it really was meticulously cared for. The mechanicals were all updated and it is a very lowmaintenance home for anyone who purchases it.” The new barn, around 1,600 square feet, that was raised by the present owners was done to emulate barns of yesteryear, although it is packed with modern comforts such as heating, ample lighting and a finished floor in the garage area. “There’s a lift in the garage and I keep thinking that this would be ideal for a car enthusiast,” says Callahan. “Lime Rock is only a few miles away, and what a perfect place to store automobiles that might be raced or shown there during the season.” And if you are into canoeing or fishing, the Housatonic River is located not far across Belden Road. For a viewing of the property, call Elyse Harney Real Estate at 860-4352200 or visit www.HarneyRE.com.
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PASSPORT TO COUNTRY PROPERTIES
The former Wilcox Tavern on Greenwoods Road features original flooring and woodwork, as well as an original fireplace.
Historic Tavern on the Market Former Bigelow Hotel was Once a Way-Station for Travelers
n Written by JOH N T OR SI E LL O Contributed Photographs
e don’t know exactly why John Jay, one of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States and the first chief justice of the Supreme Court (1789-1795), thought the Wilcox Tavern on Greenwoods Road (also known as Route 44) was a “bad house.” But we do know that he did dine and possibly stay there, for his stop was recorded in his journals. Visits like Jay’s were not uncommon in the 18th and early 19th centuries, as homes were often opened to weary travelers making their way from Hartford to Albany. Apparently, one Rosanna Pettibone Wilcox of Norfolk was the tavern keeper, appointed as such after the death of her husband. Reportedly, each year selectmen named a certain number of homeowners “to keep houses of publick entertainment.” These designations were prized, as shown by the number of individuals who actually petitioned to be tavern keepers. At times, as one can imagine, complaints were issued for keeping disorderly houses of entertainment. For some reason, Chief Justice Jay did not approve of the widow Wilcox’s tavern. A sign outside a side entrance to the home proclaims “The Widow Wilcox Proprietor,” and she must have enjoyed a modicum of success as a tavern owner and innkeeper despite Jay’s less than flattering opinion, as the property later became the Bigelow Hotel. It was once common, especially on farms on main roads, that when the man of the house died and children grew and left the homestead, widows would open a tavern/inn to be able to maintain the home and keep a place for themselves to live. The focal point of stagecoach travel in Connecticut towns at the time was the local tavern, usually run by a person of standing in the community.
The property sits on 3.42 acres and it’s walking distance to the center of Norfolk.
SPRING 2016 Passport 33
Tavern stops were typically 12 to 18 miles apart, and it was not unusual for stage proprietors to have a financial interest in the locations where passengers were to stop for food or to spend the night. From 1820 and 1840, “stagecoaching” was a major enterprise and a source of livelihood for a number of individuals. Stagecoaching was actually the fledgling United State’s first transportation subculture, the means by which a considerable number of citizens became mobile and in touch
with neighboring states and different cultures. Though the number of stage routes in the state declined with the growth of railroads, service operated in some towns into the early 20th century. The Wilcox Tavern, which has 3,795 total square feet of space, originally sat close to Greenwoods Road East, as did most homes in the 1700s. It was later moved back down a driveway on the property and a Dutch Gambrel rear wing attached. Almost all of the floors and woodwork in the home are original
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as are the fireplaces. A “keeping room” with its massive fireplace remains a center of activity in the house. The Wilcox Tavern, which sits on 3.42 acres, is currently for sale with an asking price of $589,000. Realtor Tom McGowan speaks to the historical significance of the home and property. “The property is unique because so much of it is original,” he explains during a recent interview. “To duplicate the wide chestnut, oak and pine floors and paneling is virtually impossible. Today, trees are harvested prior to their growing large enough to even be cut to those dimensions. Also the construction of post and beam is not done today with rare exception, such as post and beam barn homes, which are also rare. To build this home today to its exacting standards would cost twice the asking price.” McGowan says to find a historic home set back off the road with a sprawling front lawn and approach is also difficult, as these houses were almost always built very near roads for easy access during winter. The floor plan of the house also affords “something most unique,” with its multiple stairways, abundant bedrooms and baths and separate “public” rooms, which make it “the perfect country house” for entertaining and privacy. “In addition, the town of Norfolk (the home is located within walking distance of the quaint center of town and the Yale Summer School of Music) is positioned for strong growth in the real estate market,” says McGowan. “According to the MLS, 2015 turned out to be the biggest year in the history of Norfolk for the number of sales. Real estate ebbs and flows in Norfolk, and it is due for continued growth in volume and price. For those buyers who want something very unique and individual in a very unique and individual town, this property is it.” A tour of the home reveals much of the interior as it was over 200 years ago, and one can imagine the goingson that must have transpired during its heyday as a tavern and inn, before telephones, televisions and computers.
Much of the interior in the home shows the charm from 200 years ago, and it’s easy to imagine the goings-on that must have transpired here. SPRING 2016 Passport 35
The home also features a large attic for plenty of storage space. The grounds are attractive, featuring many mature trees.
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You know, when people actually sat and talked to one another for long periods of time. Several rooms feature wide plank floor boards, and the second story, which has several bedrooms including a master bedroom, can be accessed from a foyer and the original staircase. When entering the front door of the home, you can see period details around the doorway, such as dentil molding, sidelights and a pediment. One of the more stunning rooms is a large, 32-by-13-foot living space with a side library that features period details and historical wainscoting. Another stunning room is the 15-by15-foot dining room that has red walls and ceiling that, as McGowan says, makes those in the room look “20 years younger.” The spacious kitchen measures 19-by-13 square feet. Two guest bedrooms on the second floor share a bath with the master bedroom having its own full bath and a charming sitting area. A rear wing, built quite a bit after the original dwelling, features bedrooms with Dutch Colonial curved ceilings. A large attic in the addition offers plenty of storage space. The grounds are attractive, with gardens and mature trees gracing the property and adding color during the warm months. A large brick terrace is ideal for entertaining and overlooks an in-ground pool. There’s also a small play house for children. For a tour, contact McGowan at 860-542-5506 or 860-309-6043. For more details, visit www.Harneyre.com.
Above: A display space at the Millerton Antiques Center. Below: Assorted silverware. Right: Books and more books at the antique center.
Antiques Center a Downtown Staple High Visibility Location, Eclectic Assortment of Products Key to Center’s Success
SPRING 2016 Passport 37
Artwork adorns the walls. Below: Jewelry aplenty.
n Written and Photographed by JOH N T OR SI E LL O
he popular Millerton Antiques Center, on Main Street smack dab in the middle of the small New York town’s commercial district, was at a crossroads (no pun intended) five years ago. The lease for the building that then housed 22 antiques and collectibles dealers was up, and the owners were not going to renew. It was then that what the center’s secretary and treasurer Robert Murphy called “the group of four” raised their hands and vowed to keep the center open, committing their energy, and some money, to renew the building’s lease to keep the doors swinging inward. “It was really a time of some chaos,” says Murphy, as he sits inside the
38 Passport SPRING 2016
4,500-square-foot building. “The lease was up in December, and we renewed
reopen, but somehow we did it.” Today, the center is thriving and
for Jan. 1 of 2011. We had a month to
there are 37 dealers displaying their
get things organized and ready to
wares. There’s even a waiting list for
dealers to get in. “We have perhaps two or three new dealers come in each year, mostly because of attrition, as some dealers retire,” says Murphy. “We are doing well and we were able to weather the recession, mainly because the items that are for sale here are affordable. I don’t believe we have any pieces that are priced more than $1,000.” Customers can find many small items for around $10, he says. “Business has been good. We get hundreds of people coming in on a busy weekend,” he says. “We are seeing between a 3 to 4 percent increase in sales annually, which is very good during tough economic times.” Having a spot in the Millerton Antiques Center is attractive for dealers because of its highly visible location and the fact that the center’s operators do not take a commission on sales, as some large centers do. “We charge our dealers only rent,” says Murphy. “We also ask that each dealer work at the store two days during the month.” Working at the store allows dealers to see what items are selling, gives them an idea of what each dealer has and cuts down on overhead costs. It also allows dealers to point customers in the right direction when they are looking for certain pieces, he explains. “We also like our dealers to change up their inventory occasionally and keep things fresh,” he says. You can find an eclectic assortment of items at the center, from early American antiques and vintage linens to books, photographs, artwork, lamps and everything in between. There are some 18th-century pieces and others ranging up to the mid-20th century. There is a pleasant, relaxed feel to the interior, with the various dealers enjoying a synergy and uniqueness that keeps customers coming back for more. “We really have become a destination,” says Murphy, who maintains a space in the center called Doodletown Farm. “We were even mentioned in Fodor’s Travel as a great place to visit. We sell a lot to other
dealers and also to collectors. We also have a nice relationship with the other antiques dealers in the center of town and people can make a day of it, visiting each store and maybe grabbing a bite to eat or doing some other shopping.” The Millerton Antiques Center began operations about 22 years ago when Stuart Miller and Eddie Porr opened the business. The Floods ran the Center for about eight years. Mary Jean Hoss has been at the shop ever since it opened, first as a dealer renting space and then as store manager under the Floods. “One of the demands we had when we took over,” says Murphy with a smile, “was that Mary Jean had to stay on in her capacity as store manager. It takes a lot of time and effort to make
The outside of the Millerton Antiques Center. Below: A sign on display.
SPRING 2016 Passport 39
Millerton Antiques Center store manager Mary Jean Hoss and secretary/treasurer Robert Murphy go over some business. Below: The interior of the Millerton Antiques Center.
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things run smoothly, keeping track of sales, running the shop and juggling dealers.” Says Hoss, “I was trained by the first owners before they retired. We have always tried to maintain a friendly atmosphere where people can come in and spend hours browsing. We have actually had spouses lose one another in the store.” The Millerton Antiques Center draws loyal customers from around the tri-state area, says Murphy. “We are easily accessed by people in northwest Connecticut, the Berkshires in Massachusetts and east of the Hudson River in New York State.” The lease for the center is coming up for a five-year renewal again at the end of the year, but Murphy doesn’t see any change taking place in the operation of the shop. “We are confident we will continue as is,” he says. “We have a great landlord, and we believe we are a valuable part of downtown Millerton. I can’t imagine a building this large right in the corner of Main Street being empty. I think we are one of Millerton’s biggest employers. We even had customers who lent assistance when we had to decide how we were going to keep the center open. That’s how much it means to the people around here.” The newest dealer to rent space at the Millerton Antiques Center, Linda Pulver, was in the shop this day. Her space features many mid-20th century items. She says being a part of the center is a rewarding experience. “I only came in last November and everyone I have met has been so helpful and welcoming,” she says. “I started collecting for myself, and as my collection grew I wanted to open my own place. This is the perfect spot for me to be and there is a wonderful cooperation between all the dealers.” The Millerton Antiques Center is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit www.millertonantiquescenter.com for more details.
Anything But Plain Thoughtful, Elegant Styles a Feature at New Preston Shop
Michael DePerno and Andrew Fry recently opened Plain Goods in New Preston. The store feaures anything from cashemere scarves and baby’s clothing to spices and beauty products.
n Written by JO SE P H MON T E BE LL O Contributed Photographs
ust when you thought the shopping mecca that is New Preston couldn’t get any better, Plain Goods has appeared on the scene. Take a few steps around the corner from Main Street and discover what Michael DePerno 42 Passport SPRING 2016
and Andrew Fry have created. The two men opened the 900-squarefoot shop in November in time for the holidays, offering up a beautifully curated mix of cashmere scarves and hats, textiles, babies’ clothing, local spices, pantry goods and vintage and antique collectibles. The palette is primarily white and soft neutral shades. It is the kind of shop where one wants to spend some time shopping and savoring what is on display, perhaps
even having a chance to sit and chat with the owners over a cup of tea. “Because of size limitations, we have to be very selective about what we bring in,” said DePerno. “And we both need to feel passionate about whatever it is.” DePerno grew up in Michigan and attended Wayne State University and was always interested in the arts. Fry is from Ohio and went to Butler University. They met two years ago
“Because of size limitations, we have to be very selective about what we bring in,” said DePerno. “And we both need to feel passionate about whatever it is.” and the concept for a shop has evolved over that time. “I majored in art and design,” said DePerno, “but I did some modeling while I was in high school. In college, a photographer I knew took pictures of me and sent them to some agencies in New York. I was hired to work in the city, and then was shipped off to Europe for the shows. That changed everything for me.” Like so many others before him, DePerno fell in love with New York and was eager to start a life and a
career there. His first foray into the field of design came through a job at ABC Carpets. “It was a time when ABC was engaging and at the height of its popularity,” he said. “It was a great stepping-stone for me. Two years later, I went on to open my own shop in SoHo called Hope and Wilder.” In addition to managing the shop, DePerno also offered interior design services, which eventually led him to close the retail operation and further develop that aspect of the business.
“I began getting an itch to move,” DePerno explained. “After I had been in New York for 10 years, I went to Los Angeles to visit friends and decided to make that city my next home.” It was the complete opposite of New York. “Everything seemed easier,” he said. “During the six years I lived there, I had two different shops, both called Ren, and I started getting a lot of design work. People would buy these enormous houses and would need everything, from interiors to SPRING 2016 Passport 43
landscaping. I had the freedom to create a whole environment, from beginning to end.” Eventually DePerno bought a house in northern California and began spending more time there. But then the East Coast came calling. “I started getting commissions to design interiors back east and I had to confront my love/hate relationship with New York,” said DePerno. “I tried exploring areas outside the city whenever I could and spent some time in Connecticut. On one of those trips, I began to question what I was doing in California. I no longer felt creatively challenged or motivated and my friends were beckoning me to come home. So I sold my house on the West Coast and spent a good year and a half looking for a house in the east.” DePerno had a vision of his ideal house—a clean, crisp colonial. But everything was either too big, too small or too something. Although there was one house he had looked at several times, it took a friend to convince him that it was the right one for him. Two years later, the house is almost fully renovated. In the meantime, the desire for another shop began to evolve. “What I love about a shop,” DePerno explained, “is that it affords
you the ability to create something very personal that reflects your own taste and that you can share with the public. Hopefully they will understand it and like it and want to participate in what you’ve created.” DePerno and Fry spent several months negotiating on properties in Washington Depot that came to no avail. That’s when they decided to revisit a space they had seen in New Preston. While it was small and slightly off the beaten path, the two men saw its potential. “We signed a lease and began renovating super quickly because we wanted to be open for the holiday season,” DePerno said. “The only inventory we had were the antiques and some vintage pieces. Now that we are recovering from the holiday madness, we have time to be more thoughtful about what our approach is and what we want to represent.” DePerno and Fry, who are life partners as well as business partners, are both involved in the shop’s aesthetic offerings. “We both have a lot of input,” DePerno said. “Our personal environment, both here and in the city, is a pared-down version of the store. We tend to like the same things and we both gravitate toward timeless and
Models on Display
Fine Post & BeaM Carriage Houses, Garden sheds & Country Barns, shipped Nationwide 326 Gilead st. Hebron, Ct 06248 www.countrycarpenters.com 860.228.2276
44 Passport SPRING 2016
classic design. You won’t find any of the latest fads at Plain Goods.” DePerno is at the shop much of the time handling the day-to-day activity, while Fry is still working in the city during the week. He is in fashion marketing and branding and has consulted with many firms, such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Tom Ford. “He has a very keen business side to him and handles a lot of the behindthe-scenes details,” said DePerno. Both owners believe that a shop has to be able to beckon and engage a customer. Consequently, much of the merchandise has a tactile quality: the softness of cashmere, the patina of leather, a beautiful and simply designed piece of child’s clothing. “We love the design of children’s clothes and if we had children, this is how we would dress them,” DePerno explained. “We don’t lean toward graphic or brightly colored clothes. It’s all about the marriage of fabric and design, whether it’s for the home, a man, woman, or child. We tend to be more organic and classic. We want an object or piece of clothing to be timeless so that it becomes a permanent part of the owner’s collection or wardrobe.” DePerno and Fry have begun formulating plans for doing private label and establishing an online presence and continue to add to the mix of items in the shop. Recent additions include Rodin beauty care products, packaged in a simple yet elegant design; and Aesop skin care products. “Our shop is filled with a lot of passion and a lot of thought,” DePerno said. “We hope that something is going to sell, but that’s not the driving force. We buy what we love. We want to entice people on a different level. We want customers to find something that they hadn’t thought about and want to take it home with them, have it become their favorite thing.” Plain Goods is located at 1 New Preston Hill Road, New Preston. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, or by appointment. For more details, call 860-868-0280.
ADVERTISER INDEX Abrash Galleries............................31
Northwest CT Arts Council............9
Bain Real Estate............................34
Best & Cavallaro Real Estate........34
Rumsey Hall School.....................15
Colebrook Book Barn................... 11
Rustic Country Barn.....................33
Samaha Oriental Rugs...................36
Decker & Beebe Inc......................30
The White Horse...........................20
Elyse Harney Real Estate..............35
Torrington Country Club...............26
Green River Gallery........................9
Joe’s Salon and Spa....................... 11
Watertown Golf Club....................10
Kent Greenhouse & Gardens........31
Liberty Custom Tailoring..............27
Wood’s Pit BBQ............................22
Laurel Ridge Farm........................23
Northville Market............................4 SPRING 2016 Passport 45
Spring Forward By Viktoria Sundqvist The winters never seem to get easier in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut. As I write this, the snow has finally melted away, very slowly, from the sidewalks outside our offices and grass can be seen in the courtyard. The sun is warming my face on my brief walks outside. Soon, we will see flower buds emerge from the ground, bringing with them expectations of much warmer weather ahead. It will happen soon, I tell myself, as I dream of walks filled with sunshine and the smell of lilacs.
Spring is almost here.
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