Small Town Charm

Andrew and I rang in 2015 quietly, just us and the dogs, at my parents beach house on the CT shore.  After a busy, crazy year it was exactly what I wanted for my last night of 2014.  On New Years Day we had no plans so I suggested we go walk around the nearby town of Essex, CT.  I hadn’t been there in probably a decade or more and I recalled my parents saying it was a lovely little town.

Man, were they right! As soon as we pulled down Main Street I was ready to jump out of the car, itching to take pictures.  The incredible old homes simply blew my mind, and since it was holiday time, the whole town was decorated perfectly- no inflatables or plastic- just lovely greenery, bows and lights.  Andrew said this town made him feel like skipping. I agreed!  I grew up driving around with my dad looking at houses in pretty towns (or “real estalking” as we call it now) and as an adult I find that I now do just that for fun too! So we did!

This little situation nearly had me in tears it’s so good. Those windows??

Part of a MUCH bigger house.


Note the stone dogs complete with bows. Of course.  I mean, PERFECTION.


A little bit of Normal Rockwell Americana for you.




This place is the old carriage house for the house next door but it’s been renovated into it’s own house (which happens to be for sale right now).  Those carriage house doors are the things my dreams are made of.


This is a crappy picture of an amazing home- with perfectly trimmed hedges and a bird mansion.


The trim detail on this door? Yes please.




Essex is on the Connecticut River and is nearby to the ocean as well.  The town green was complete with a Christmas tree in the gazebo, of course.  At this point Andrew and I were squealing about how this place was like a really pretty North Pole. And since Andrew is the real life Buddy the Elf, this thrilled him (“Sannntaaa’s coming! I know him!!!”)


Then we decided to see if we could find a place to grab brunch and we stumbled upon The Griswold Inn.  We popped in to see if there was a table available…


And were knocked sideways by the most charming, cozy, magical place ever! How had I not known about this?  Fires roaring in fireplaces in every room, happy people toasting each other and saying hello to neighbors and hot coffee all around. And walls and walls of awesome antique art and memorabilia hung gallery style on every inch of wall!


So many little rooms, each with fireplaces and cozy nooks.


The library room has books floor to ceiling.  I felt like such a creeper taking these pictures while people were eating.


Some shots I found online that are a bit clearer and give you a better picture of the coziness and historical detail of the place.



We left saying crazy things like “we should sell our house and move here!”  We say that every time we spend time in a charming small town– but then when we think about the reality of it we back away from that idea.  We love being in the thick of things in Boston.  Oh, but the charm….the coziness…. New Engladn seaside towns just have this magic that makes you think you could trade in the hustle and bustle for growing your own kale and singing sea captain songs.

Have you ever entertained moving to a tiny town?  Do you live in one? Do tell!



  1. My roommates and another friend are from Essex and they loved seeing this! :) They passed it along to the Gris, which shared it on Facebook. Essex reminds me so much of Stars Hollow in the Gilmore Girls! Such a pretty town.

  2. I’m so glad you liked our town! When I first moved to CT from a small town in upstate NY I lived in Bridgeport CT. It was not exactly what I had imagined Costal New England to be. I had visited Essex in college with a friend that grew up near here. My wife and I when we got married wanted to start fresh together so we up rooted and moved here. We have not regretted it a moment. We were married at a church in town and had our reception at the Yacht club. It has always reminded us of Martha’s Vineyard were we met with out the ferry ride.

    One thing you missed is that the tree in the gazebo was decorated by our cub scouts.

    Thanks for visiting our town it is small but we love to look at it every day and it never gets old. Look into our history too some neat things happened here in the war of 1812. And when you come listen for the Steam train whistle it’s sure to take you back in time.

  3. I’m just laughing really hard at the idea of Andrew being the real-life, Buddy the Elf. I LOVE that stinkin’ movie and we watch it every year during the holidays. This post reminds me to wander more – and not necessarily to exotic places – a very nice new year’s resolution. Happy 2015!

  4. Your wonderful photos and commentary on Essex was so bittersweet for me. This was our special get away from it all place for 16 years before my husband’s passing. We were very fortunate to spend every summer weekend there on our live aboard boat. We fell crazy in love with Essex and the memories of The Gris, The River Museum, the Art Galleries, the Shops, boating on the river and LI Sound ,the annual Blue Fish Bake and Lobster Bake and most of all the wonderful residents that became forever friends. Thank you for sharing. Bringing back many heartfelt memories for me.

  5. Great post! My husband and I were lucky enough to make Essex our home 2 years ago and we absolutely love everything about this town. It’s beautiful and rich with history, and love all of the community events throughout the year and fantastic shops and restaurants. In addition the schools are fantastic . We joke that we will never move unless we upgrade to one the beautiful historic homes down on the water. Thanks for taking time to enjoy our town, it’s truly a hidden gem :)

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