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Yes I Know Noank, Connecticut | A Sweet Detour

Yes I Know Noank, Connecticut | A Sweet Detour
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1. land's end
If the town had been called “Connecticut Point” or “South Mystic,” I could have resisted. But it was a word I’d never seen or heard—the sign read, “Noank.” 

About four miles southwest of the Mystic River Drawbridge, my mom and I pulled into a little lot by the water. “Yeah, you can tell who lives here by how fast they drive,” a young woman working as nanny told me as she parked her stroller under a tree. “Now that it’s nice out, people zoom into town, and then turn around and leave.”

On a Tuesday morning in early June, the village of Noank, Connecticut, is serene. There’s an easy breeze drifting in from the little beach at the end of Main Street, where a granite bench marks the memory of one “who loved Noank.”  The cove’s air has that slight salt tang—something you’ll never whiff if, like me, you live over 100 miles inland.   

The young woman, my impromtu “knowledgeable person,” assures me that everyplace on the little peninsula of Noank is walkable, that we could amble over to the boatyards and the Historical Society and get scones at the Noank Community Market, leaving the car right here, by the toddler searching for shells and a marker noting that Amelia Earhart married in this place.


The 300-year-old houses look proud of their longevity. We pass starlings flitting across wrought iron fences. Turning on to Pearl Street, we encounter the green canopy of a chestnut tree in bloom. There’s no bustle here, only the disarmingly kind people at the Community Market who must know we’re out-of-towners, but make no mention of it.

2. exquisite ediface JPG

Chestnut tree on Pearl Street in Noank
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Chestnut tree on Pearl Street in Noank

city center: downtown IMG_1449

We sip our coffee and savor our pastries, staring out at the clean brilliance of a June day.

Our mid-New England mother-daughter rendezvous is coming to an end and we are savoring Noank’s tranquility before we each head to homes in opposite directions.

Looking out from the lunch counter at the community market MG_1450

The boatyard, lighthouse, and the (allegedly) famous Abbott’s restaurant are further up the road, but a glance at my mother’s watch means “next time,” so we reluctantly saunter back to the car parked by the little beach.

“Yesank,” I think as we glide away, gradually accelerating toward  I-95.

leaving reluctantly

 official emblem of Noank
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
official emblem of Noank
Julia Shipley


Julia Shipley


Contributing editor, Julia Shipley's stories celebrate New Englanders' enduring connection to place. She digs up facts and stats for each issue's "By The Numbers" feature; she's also the author of Yankee's "Vermont Rural Life" blog, as well the Yankee Plus column, "The Farmer's Life." An award winning poet, her long-form lyric essay, Adam's Mark was selected as one of the Boston Globe's Best New England Books of 2014.
Updated Sunday, June 29th, 2014

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11 Responses to Yes I Know Noank, Connecticut | A Sweet Detour

  1. Coralie Thomas Oliveira June 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Coming from Lancaster MA I can readily relate to this charming community. We are so fortunate to find these safe harbours throughout our anew England. Best of all, Amelia’s marriage noted. I lived many years in Newport RI, yes there are mansions but the most poignant for me is St Mary’s church, John and Jackie were married there. Thank you for a lovely tale. Coralie Oliveira, RI, MA, NH, NJ, FL. HOME will always be New England

    • Julia June 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      Coralie, thank you for your thoughts why these seaside communities are so evocative. Their beauty and stability make them a natural choice to launch a marriage. I could picture Amelia and George enjoying Noank as exactly the right place to speak their vows.

  2. Matt June 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    the subtlety of Noank is what gives it the charm. The old fishing houses (largely used as sheds now) that dot the area are a reminder of the roots of Noank. The old church and buildings that show a deep heritage in the town. Like a lot of coastal towns, there is the occasional intrusion of newage glass mansions, but the charm remains intact. The Seahorse restaurant is a hidden gem as is Abbots and Ford’s lobsters.

    My grandmother’s home is in Noank and the memories of that village go back dozens of years. There was an especially fond moment last month when the CW Morgan (the last wooden whaling ship) was finally brought out of port. I have a a picture of the tallship turning in the channel with the Noank Baptist church and old fishing homes in the background. It’s one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.

    Thanks for noticing Noank, it is a great little hamlet.

    • Julia June 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      Hi Matt,

      Yes, “Subtle” is the perfect word for Noank. One thing I didn’t mention in the article is that my father bought an old Land Rover in Noank. He calls it Frankenstein because it’s one of those 1964, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70 automobiles, with parts from the better part of a decade.

      Thanks for lending your insider observations to my piece–and I bet that ancient ship gliding out of the harbor was a breathtaking, unforgettable sight!

  3. Jeannine O June 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Why did the writer refer to Abbott’s as “allegedly” famous?
    Maybe she hadn’t heard of it but she should be assured Abbott’s is quite well known, even well beyond the cozy confines of New England.
    Every year I see hundreds of people from warmer climates such as Maryland, NC & SC on the 6 o’clock news who drive up to Noank on opening day to get their first bite of Summer lobster.
    I can’t even begin to guess how many lobsters they all per season….
    It is indeed famous not just “allegedly”.

    • Julia June 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm #


      Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to tie on my bib and tuck into a Lobstah! at Abbott’s myself one day. But as a journalist who wasn’t able to confirm the reach of its famousness before deadline, I tucked in the “alleged”just to be safe. Thanks for calling me out on that.

  4. Susan Maxon June 6, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I now live 1,000 miles away from Abbotts and think of it fondly every summer. It was always my birthday lunch choice. Casual, picturesque, outdoor dining on steamed lobsters, hot lobster rolls, cold lobster salad rolls….ahhh. Julia, be sure not to miss it on your next trip to Noank. Or Yesank :)

    • Julia June 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

      Dear Susan,

      If/ when I visit again, I will surely make Abbotts one of my must- dos! (Abbotts– if you’re reading this, I promise never to call you “allegedly” famous ever again)

  5. maggie zuccardy June 7, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    I lived a mile away in GLP. My great grand father lived in Noank and was a cooper at the Seaport. We use to wear t-shirts that said “I’m a local and I won’t give you directions to Abbott’s.”….. Yeah we were rebels…..

  6. Julia June 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Oh Maggie, you’re one of the lucky ones. And what a cool sense of place you must have when you’re in the vicinity of Noank. Have you been able to find or locate any of your great grandfather’s wheels and barrels?

    Meanwhile I love the spunk of those t-shirts.

  7. Elizabeth Pratt June 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi, Julia! Thank you for sharing your discovery of Noank! And thank you to the Rev. Paul Hayes of Noank Baptist Church for sharing his discovery of your article!

    I was blessed to grow up in Noank from birth through graduate school. My father, Jim Pratt, was the “Minister of the Parish” from 1963 until 2001. I had a fabulous view of waterfront Noank, Fisher’s Island Sound, and Martha’s Vineyard from my bedroom window in the parsonage on Cathedral Heights (a very grand name for the parking lot of the Baptist church). I used to eat at Abbott’s, but not lobster. We bought our lobster from Orion Ford and steamed it ourselves. I would buy a can of cake frosting at Pat’s Store (now the Community Market) and go sit at one of Abbott’s picnic tables during the off season with my friend and eat frosting till we were sick. We walked everywhere, in bare feet from May to October, always right down the middle of the street. Everyone knew everyone else, and no one locked their door, even when they went on vacation. You must visit on Memorial Day for the parade or July 4th for the Noank Band concert. By the way, I was taught that Noank is the Pequot word for “Mouth of the River.”

    Thanks for stirring up many happy memories for me!

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