Norfolk, Connecticut: A bit out of the way, far from the expected

Rural but not remote, rustic but decidedly not unsophisticated, Norfolk is an unspoiled northwestern Connecticut outpost of pastoral landscapes and wooded hills replete with its own unique cultural touchstones. The village, first settled in 1744, is accentuated by a picturesque, colonial-era Green and marked by an unpretentious, relaxed lifestyle reminiscent of days gone by.

Norfolk has been a focal point of creative excellence since the late nineteenth century. This cultural past is evidenced in masterworks by Tiffany and Saint-Gaudens, and eye-catching architectural treasures by Rossiter, Taylor and Keller among others.

Every summer, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, in conjunction with Yale University’s Summer School of Music and Art, makes its home on the rolling grounds of the Battell Stoeckel estate in the heart of the town. Just across the road Infinity Hall, a lovingly restored 1883 music hall, is the intimate setting for concerts all year long by noted musicians from across the popular music spectrum. Adjacent to the Village Green, the Norfolk Library, built in 1889, is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing and welcoming library in Connecticut.

Down a secluded, winding wooded lane a glimmering community pond beckons residents to the town’s sandy beach, where generations of families have whiled away blissful summer days. Close to the pond is the country club’s splendid A.W. Tillinghast 9-hole golf course, rated one of the best in the country, and, next door, a nationally known curling club is alive with bonspiels all winter. Many grand estates are hidden from view, built by summer colony tastemakers who discovered Norfolk in the early 20th century, enticed by the pure air and bracing atmosphere. Within its diverse landscape, Norfolk also boasts three state parks, a state boat launch and thousands of acres of preserved land laced with trails for hiking, cross country skiing and other outdoor activities.

By turns quiet and lively, Norfolk is home to local families attracted by its unhurried pace, extraordinary civic engagement and highly rated grade school. Less than 2.5 hours from both New York and Boston, Norfolk is also a second-home retreat for city dwellers and suburbanites looking to decompress. A convenient East-West road connects Norfolk to nearby small villages, to Hartford on the Connecticut River, to thriving river towns on the banks of the Hudson or to other cultural attractions that include the renowned Tanglewood performance center in the Massachusetts Berkshires. Yet with all its connections (Bradley International Airport is just 34 miles away), Norfolk embodies the essence of country contentments mingled with a multitude of cultural delights. A bit out of the way and far from the expected, Norfolk is in so many ways a place apart.