Mystic River Historic District

View of the West Main Street, north side, view northwest; Source- NRIS 79002728.
Historic/Common Name:
Mystic River National Register District
Groton »
Year of Establishment:
Historic Designation:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission, Mystic
Nature of Authority:
District Character:
Town center
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
General description:

Mystic is a community on Long Island Sound in southeastern Connecticut across from the eastern end of Long Island. The community is divided by the Mystic River, the section on the west bank being in the Town of Groton and the section on the east bank being in the town of Stonington. The local Historic District contains the west bank of the community in Groton. The community is subject to two separate but complementary National Register District nominations: Mystic River National Register District (NRIS 79002728) containing the part in Groton and Mystic Bridge National Register District (NRIS 79002671) containing the part in Stonington. The boundaries of the local Historic District and the Mystic River National Register district encompass many of the same buildings but are not identical. The community of Mystic developed because of 19th century ship building and associated activity along the Mystic River. Most of the actual shipbuilding was on the east bank. The west bank was given over to a commercial strip, some ship building, and other industrial activity, and, primarily, to many fine homes. As community growth and change essentially came to an end with the end of wooden ships, Mystic River remains largely a 19th-century town in layout, mass, scale, and architecture. [NR]

Significance of the district:

Architecture, Exploration/ Settlement: The importance of the Mystic Historic District derives from the completeness of the 19th-century community here preserved. Seldom are houses, public buildings, stores, and factories of a 19th-century town all in place, in good condition, and still in use, as they are in Mystic. The variety of architectural styles that the prosperous seafaring citizens employed in building up their community provide fine examples of the ongoing, 19th-century development of taste and design. The district is significant in American architecture and history because it possesses integrity of location, design, setting, workmanship, and association; embodies the distinctive characteristics of a period and represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. The location and setting of the district were a consequence, in large part, of the geography of the region. The Mystic River, so called, is not really a river, but rather is an arm of the sea five miles long. There are two sites of historic importance in the district. One of these relates to the massacre of the Pequot Indians in 1637 by a group led by Captain John Mason (1600-1672); and the second historic site is the location of Fort Rachel on a rocky promontory overlooking the entrance to the harbor. The association of the Pequot massacre and the Fort Rachel engagement with the district adds to its significance. In addition to becoming a center for ship-building, Mystic became the home port for sealing, whaling, West Indies trade, and coastal trade generally. The many ships captains who made their homes in the district contributed in various ways to the history of the community and its significance. While the town received most of its economic support from shipbuilding and from trade and commerce associated with the sea, there was some manufacturing. As no other development replaced the building of wooden ships and associated port activities, the district continues to have today substantially the same structures, and the same landscaping, fencing, street furniture, and road widths that it did during the 19th century. These components embody the distinctive characteristics of the period, and represent a significant and distinguishable entity. The many Greek Revival and Italianate homes that remain from that era are the strength of the district. But fine examples of other styles like Queen Anne, Second Empire and Shingle Style should not be overlooked. The Mystic River historic district is a statement of a 19th-century community whose life was tied to the sea. The architectural development displayed there and the relationship of homes, stores, public buildings, and industrial sites combine to form a district of unusual integrity. [NR]

District Boundary:

The district is located on the west bank of River Mystic including properties along the following streets: Academy Lane, Ashby Street, Bank Street, Burrows Street, Buttonwood Lance, Clift Lane, Edgecomb Street, Eldredge Street, Elm Street, Fort Rachel Place, Godfrey Street, Gravel Street, Grove Avenue, High Lane, High Street, Latham Street, Library Street, New London Road, Noank Road, Orchard Lane, Park Place, Pearl Street, Pequot Avenue, Prospect Street, Rathbus Place, River Road, Route 1 (West Main Street), Rowland Street, School Street, Starr Street, Thomas Street, Water Street and West Mystic Avenue; as described in the district ordinance.


Buildings, Parks, Sculpture, Waterfront


Residential, Commercial, Religious, Educational, Industrial, Park

Architectural Style:

Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne

18th century, 19th Century and 20th Century

[1] District information retrieved from the town website
[2]Groton Historic District Study Committee Report, 1974, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Historic District Handbook, Town of Groton,
[4] Assessors and GIS information retrieved from the website
[NR] Ransom David F., Mystic River National Register District, National Register Nomination Number- 79002728 NRIS, National Park Service, 1978 -;


The boundaries of the Mystic River National Register district have been drawn so as to be less jagged than the local Historic District's, and so as to include certain contemporary buildings that were omitted from the local district. [NR] The list of the properties enlisted in the district has been obtained from the National Register Nomination and needs to be verified by the district authorities.


Town map of Groton showing all the historic districts, source-Town Website (LHD_Groton_Town_Map_TownWebsite)

View PDF

The list of the designated properties has been adopted from the National Register nomination. Since the boundaries of the local historic district and the National Register historic district are not coterminous, the list of the property needs to be verified by Groton Town Clerk's Office or the Historic District Commission.

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation