From the Founder: The Spirit of Old Greenwich



Greenwich is often described as a town of villages, and no community fits that description better than Old Greenwich. It’s where, 372 years ago, the history of Greenwich began. The original settlers, Jeffrey Ferris, the eccentric Robert Feake and Captain Daniel Patrick, a soldier of fortune driven from Boston for “crude and unbecoming behavior,” were an ill-assorted trio. After conning the Siwanoy Indians into signing away most of their coastal tribal land for a mere twenty-five English coats, Ferris named the area Greenwich for his home town in England. The rest of what is now the Town of Greenwich was known as Horseneck and settled later.

While Old Greenwich residents are proud of their history as our town’s birthplace, they are equally enamored and concerned with preserving the village’s small town ambiance that led them to make it their home. A leisurely stroll along Sound Beach Avenue in the heart of the shopping area is a refreshing change from the sophisticated chain stores that repeat themselves in shopping strips elsewhere. Stores here are mostly family owned, some for several generations. Bennett Jewelers was founded in 1945 by the grandfather and great-grandfather of the present proprietor, Allison Falco, who assumed ownership from her father Wyatt Bennett; Porricelli’s Food Mart, with second generation Jerry and Joe in charge, has Joe Junior in the wings for third.

In our forty-nine years in neighboring Riverside, Old Greenwich has been a favored shopping experience. We have witnessed change, most of it inevitable. Besides Porricelli’s there were once two other grocery stores: Stewart’s Market, which specialized in home delivery—a phone call would bring madam’s groceries to her door—and Grand Central where CVS now stands. Across the street the family owned Kerr’s pharmacy stood for many years before succumbing to the merchandising power of CVS. Many other establishments have remained but with new or second-generation ownership. Images, owned and operated by Tom Ragland before becoming our First Selectman, is a landmark art and framing store under the ever-popular Marcos Torno, who provides a gallery in his store for local artists. Viscardi’s Colonial Inn is now the remodeled Beach House Café under new ownership. John Mackey, proprietor for over forty years of Mackey’s Service station at the hub of downtown Old Greenwich, was a legend in his time, and universally known for his service and his smile. Son-in-law Peter Pennella continues the Mackey tradition of friendly dedication to customer needs.

Many other stores have lent stability and a hometown atmosphere to the Old Greenwich shopping area over the years, including Feinsod’s Hardware, formerly Sterling Watts Hardware, Alpine Pantry which makes some of the best sandwiches you will find anywhere, and Sam’s Wine and Liquor. John Martello, son of Sam and a former head of the Old Greenwich Merchants Association, pointed with pride to the standing clock on the sidewalk outside, paid for, he said, by the association’s members.

Yet times of late have not been easy for Old Greenwich merchants any more than for retail stores elsewhere. More empty storefronts than anyone can remember testify to the recession and Internet shopping. Not surprisingly, Just Books on Arcadia Road went the way of many independent as well as chain book stores.  Most landlords have been realistic and adjusted their rents to accommodate tenants faced with lower revenues. Unfortunately, a few shortsightedly raised the rent and lost their tenants. Such was the case with Housewarmers, a store that featured attractive mid-priced home furnishings and accessories — forced to close its doors in the face of the landlord’s demand for an excessive rent increase. Empty stores represent lost income for the landlords, and also have a negative impact on the entire shopping area.

Still, Old Greenwich offers an attractive and convenient venue that satisfies a variety of shopping needs. Sound Beach Avenue is pedestrian friendly, and there is generally adequate parking available with no parking meters. Many of the retailers are doing as well or better than their counterparts elsewhere, and changes are in the offing. One is the Arcadia Coffee Shop’s application for a license to serve wine and beer. Robert Guerrieri, an ardent booster of Old Greenwich, is the owner of Arcadia and also owns the Upper Crust Bagel Shop. Says Guerrieri of Arcadia, “This is a large facility to be dedicated just to serving coffee, and we want to make this a modestly priced, family restaurant.” (Aren’t we relieved it’s not another bank!)

But for many, Old Greenwich is not just a shopping destination. Large numbers turn out for the traditional Memorial Day Parade, the Fourth of July fireworks in Binney Park, the annual sidewalk art show, and the First Light evening celebration in December. Some may even remember the colorful bedstead races down Sound Beach Avenue. Old Greenwich is a town with character and spirit!

Jack Moffly

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...

  • AGAPANTHUS RISING

    2014.11.18
     @ Greenwich Water Club

    Like the Agapanthus flower, which starts as just a seed, we all have something to share with the world.  Sadly, we don't always nurture...

  • The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Junior League of Greenwich presents 2014 Enchanted Forest! Holiday Boutiques Gingerbeard Workshops Santa's Breakfast...

  • Junior League of Greenwich The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

    The Junior League of Greenwich (JLG) will host its annual holiday fundraiser, The Enchanted Forest on Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November...


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