Feb 14, 2012
11:00 AMDiscover Connecticut
Connecticut From A to Woodstock: Avon
Whenever I hear about Avon, I always think the same thing: It's a pretty nice place to live, right? Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this way as the town's population has continued to swell over the past decade, currently sitting a bit over the 18,000 mark. Not bad for a place named after the river that ran through Shakespeare's home town.
Where is it? Avon is in the heart of the Farmington River Valley, about 10 miles due east of Hartford.
What's it like? Avon is an affluent suburb of Hartford—according to the town's website, the median income (as of 2009) is $111,000 and the average sale price of a new home is $700,000. As such, it's a fashionable surban blend set on approximately 23 square miles of fertile, generally flat river valley featuring well-kept single residences, upscale retail and dining choices, inviting public parks and multiple golf courses. The majority of commercial enterprises are concentrated along Route 44. In 2005, it was named the third-safest town in America by Money Magazine.
Brief history Looking to get away from the intense hustle and bustle of that legendary 17th-century metropolis known as Farmington, a group of families relocated to even quieter environs, founding a small settlement that would become known as Northington. With the population reaching just over 1,000 in 1830, it officially became its own entity, taking its name for the River Avon in England, and has continued to grow steadily since. Of course, the town's website has a much more detailed version of its history.
For the boys One of the most well-known town landmarks is the iconic Avon Old Farms School, which was founded and designed by pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle. Although it was opened in 1927, Riddle spent nearly 20 years designing the buildings and helping to fomulate the curriculum. She dedicated it to the memory of her parents, whose substantial fortune she used to help fund it.
Hungry? If you're feeling peckish, Avon is the place to be. A terrific variety of top-notch local eateries are here, including Max a Mia, Carmen Anthony Fishhouse, Bosc Kitchen & Wine Bar, Amici Italian Grill, Puerto Vallarta, First and Last Tavern, Ferme and da Capo Brick-Oven Pizza. A vertitable who's who of fine dining.
Art attack The Farmington Valley Arts Center (located, appropriately on Arts Center Lane) offers art classes in a wide variety of media as well as numerous public events, workshops, studio space, shows and two public galleries where visitors can purchase the work of local artists.
Don't miss Avon is one of the three towns that Talcott Mountain State Park reaches into, and one of the many that can viewed spectacularly from historic Heublein Tower, which sits high atop the mountain. The tower—which offers views of objects from Long Island Sound to New Hampshire mountains, and is purportedly the place where Republican leaders asked Dwight Eisenhower to run for the presidency—is open from May through October; the park is open year round.
Giddyap! The oldest continuously active mounted cavalry unit in the United States, First Company Governor's Horse Guard, calls Avon its primary stomping grounds. The group was originally organized in 1788 by veterans of the Revolutionary War who wanted to provide a formal escort for the governor of Connecticut, and has been tall in the saddle ever since, serving in both war- and peace-time capacities. The current unit drills every Thursday night at 7 at its headquarters on Arch Road, an event that is open to the public.
The horse guard barn recently came under the auspices of the Avon Historical Society, who has been raising funds to restore the 19th-century structure. Let's hope they continue to make hay with the project!Connecticut From A to Woodstock: Avon