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					South Central Connecticut - Castles and
Submarines


map of usa states
Drive through the country side of South Central Connecticut. The
country is very rolling, with many field stone fences. In East Haddam is
St Stephen's Episcopal Church, which has a bell dating from 815 A.D.
It is said to be the world's oldest church bell still in use. The Spanish
monastery, from which it comes, was destroyed by Napoleon and the
bell was salvaged. It arrived here on a shipload of metal and found a
home in this parish church to toll again.
Also in East Haddam is the Godspeed Theater, in which are performed
musicals. Victorian in architecture, the theater overlooks the
Connecticut River.
Also overlooking the river is the Gillette Castle. Built between 1914
and 1919, this building built entirely of fieldstone (six million on the
property) is an example of the post Victorian Movement, reminiscent of
the Prairie School of Chicago. William Gillette (no relation to Gillette
Safety Razor Company), once a neighbor of Mark Twain in Hartford,
ignored the wishes of his father and became an actor. During his career
he wrote and starred in over twenty plays, most notably bringing the
role of Sherlock Holmes to the stage. Around the turn of the century he
was earning over $200,000 per year. He fell in love with the overlook of
the river, which he called the Seventh Sister and proceeded to build this
home. Consisting of 24 rooms, the house contains many ingenious
inventions thought up by Gillette. Every door and lock is of a different
design. He had a special lock on his liquor cabinet that even Albert
Einstein or Mark Twain could not figure out how to open. He would
silently laugh at them by viewing their frustrations in strategically
placed mirrors. He had a small scaled railroad erected on his grounds
map of east coast usa
With over three miles of track, including trestles and a hundred yard
tunnel. The house itself has undergone extensive reconstruction and
has now reopened to much of its former glory. At five dollars per
person it is a bargain to see the tribute of William Gillette. Did I
mention the view? Overlooking the Connecticut River and the
surrounding countryside, you can see the small ferry crossing the River
with passengers and cars.
Old Say brook is at the tip of the Connecticut River and Long Island
Sound. Once the home of Yale University before it moved to New
Haven, it is now a quiet community. In the memorial park are the
remnants of an old train roundhouse, a building in which maintenance
was performed on the engines. A boardwalk leads out to an estuary and
marsh lands with a description of the flora and fauna found there. An
interesting plaque gives the history of the Pequot Wars. The tale told
that the Pequot started the war with the British and the British finished
it off. Is there a third side to the story?
Across the river is Old Lyme, purported to be the home of many ship
captains. There is no map designating the historical homes. The locals
claim that the town residents want to live in anonymity and keep the
tourists away. On the Northern edge of town is Florence Griswold
Museum with a collection of American Impressionists. Adjacent is an
art academy and museum, which accepts tourists. Today Lyme has the
dubious distinction of being the name of Lyme disease carried by the
deer tick. There goes anonymity.
Further East is Groton, the home of the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear
submarine, launched in 1954. She and her crew were the first ones to
sail under the North Pole. Audio guided tours are available for free
aboard the sub. She is the only nuclear submarine on display in the
world. Groton is also the home of the Coast Guard Academy.

				
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