As you get out of our driveway at Holly Berry House, you make an immediate left to walk down Pequot Avenue. This (left) is the view of Pequot Avenue that you see from the end of our driveway. Notice the style of the homes on the street. They are clapboard sided colonial homes, usually two-storied, with black shutters on the windows. This style of home is typical of New England. It gives the village a very distinctive ambiance. In the spring, summer and fall, the proud owners of these homes, tend to their gardens, so that the village is ablaze with color. I took this picture in mid-April when the foliage had not quite appeared on the trees. But the street depicts the quiet calmness that characterizes this area all year round.
After you pass by these houses on your right hand side, you will start to see, in front of you,the main stores that comprise Southport Village Center (left).Villagers love to shop for their food needs at Spic N Span Market. This gourmet food store carries only the finest quality foods and fresh produce. At lunchtime, their counters are crowded with hungry professionals looking for their tasty takeaway offerings of soups, salads and sandwiches. Those who prefer not to cook, can have homely meals served to them at the quaint Driftwood Cafe. The late actor Jason Robards who made Southport his home for decades, was known to enjoy many a modest meal in this friendly location where folks sit with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, solve a crossword puzzle or just gab with friends. No one is ever in a hurry and time seems to stand still in this eatery. The menu options are very limited. But the appetizing aroma and the sizzling sound of bacon fill the air and you can be assured of a very satisfying meal without burning a hole in your pocket.
Right opposite the food shops and cafe is one of Southport’s oldest institutions–Switzer’s Pharmacy (left). This drug store has been in operation for the past one hundred years at least and is run today by brothers Jack and Jerry Ringel who are always inside. These pharmacists know each one of their customers by name and offer personalized service. The shop windows display old apothecary bottles and pestles and mortars from days gone by. During the summer, their window boxes brim over with pansies and petunias in gay abandon. The barber next door has the traditional striped rotating bar outside his door that denotes his profession while the Village Hardware Store is to his immediate left. Next door to the hardware store is the Fairfield Women’s Exchange, a charity store whose proceeds fund various worthy causes in town. This is one of my favorite shops. Its old-world ambiance, the gracious assistance of the female volunteer staff that run the place and the goodies inside make it a Pandora’s box of gift ideas. Whether it is a present for a special new baby, a retirement memento or just a souvenir of Southport that you seek, this is the place in which you will find it. My special corner of this shop is the antiques section at the far end where jewelry, china and porcelain, silver, glassware and other heirlooms tempt the buyer to splurge on just one more cup and saucer or silver spoon. I have spent many a lazy summer afternoon browsing through this section and I have rarely left without another treasure that the staff package beautifully in their signature turquoise blue gift wrapping tissue paper and ribbons. Next door is the Accents Home Decorating store that also stocks a marvelous range of enticing decor items, home fragrances, cards, etc. All beautifully displayed, they are irresistible, and I have often bought house-warming gifts for friends and Christmas ornaments for myself during the holiday season.
Let’s now cross the street and return to the Driftwood Cafe where we will make a right on to Main Street with its gracious colonial homes flanking both sides. You will pass by a spectacular copper beech tree on your right that is at least 300 years old in the front lawn of a house that dates from the mid-1700s. Opposite, on the other side of the street, parked upon a grassy hillock is Robinson Cottage, a tiny fairy-tale house that dates from the 1600s. Then, just a few houses ahead on your right is this superb Victorian House (above right) with its gingerbread trim and wide porch.This home was almost torn down a few years ago. Then, someone came up with the idea of converting it into condominiums and, presto, the structure was saved. There is a certain character to this house that takes me back to years gone by and makes me wonder what life must have been like for fellow-villagers who made this area their home a century ago.
Just a block past the Victorian house, also on your right is the Eagle Hill School (left). This low structure used to be the local public school. When Southport’s pupils became integrated with those of the larger town of Fairfield, the building remained unused for years. Then, the village residents got together to save the building by converting it into a school for students with special needs. In the summer, a lovely fun-fair is held here with face painters and balloon makers, free pancake breakfasts and gooey strawberry shortcake served to anyone who cares to take a walk towards the harbor.Right in front of the school is a magnificent magnolia tree that showers down the most fragrant pink and white flowers all over the area in the springtime.
We have arrived at the end of Main Street which is intersected by Harbor Road. By this time, your eye has carried you forward to the blue and tranquil waters of the Mill River that flows through the village and creates the prettiest harbor in all Connecticut. The stone lion-headed fountain monument that you see at the end of Main Street (above) was erected to commemorate the numbers of Americans killed in warfare. Just beyond the fountain on your left are the twin red brick buildings of the Pequot Yatch Club which is abuzz with activity during the warmer months as many villagers are enthusiastic sailors who own boats and dock them in the harbor.
If you want to continue your walking tour of Southport, please click the link below to the next page. We will stroll down Harbor Road and take a look at its oldest and most gracious colonial mansions. If you’d rather just sit on one of the benches facing the Mill River, to enjoy the warm sunshine and the gentle wafting breezes, feel free to while away the moments. You might catch some great golf right opposite on the Fairfield Country Club’s golf links as its enthusiastic members tee off.
Southport Walking Tour continues on Harbor Road