District Overview Inventory List District Map

Borough of Fenwick Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Old Saybrook
Year of Establishment:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Beach Resort

Buildings, Sea front, Open Spaces, Golf Course

Architectural Style:

Shingle Style, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow

19th Century, 20th Century; Period of Significance- 1871-1944

The Fenwick historic district includes the entire Borough of Fenwick, with the exception of a small portion of the Borough located northwest of Maple Avenue. This Borough of Fenwick, surrounded on three sides by water, encompasses 225 acres of land, 146 acres of which are a park. Within the park is a 59-acre golf course and four tennis courts. Most of the buildings in the district are large late 19th- or early 20th-century wood-shingled summer cottages. The cottages are located on a peninsula surrounded by the waters of South Cove on the north and Long Island Sound on the east and south. The central part of the Fenwick Historic District consists of a small grid of streets lined with cottages set amid spacious lawns, north of which is the Fenwick Golf Course. The majority of houses in the Fenwick Historic District are 2-1/2 stories high, with shingled exteriors and porches on two or more sides (and often, a porch on part of the upper story as well). Some of them, particularly the smaller, earlier cottages, display few decorative features or other indication of architectural style . However, nearly a third of the houses can be characterized as examples of the Shingle style of architecture. The 9-hole course Fenwick Golf Course first laid out in the 1890 has been improved and modified through the years. [2 & NR]

Architecture, Entertainment/Recreation: The Fenwick Historic District illustrates an important development in Connecticut's social history, the creation of upper-class and upper-middle-class seaside summer retreats. Fenwick, laid out in 1870 as a business venture by the New Saybrook Company, became the summer home of many of Connecticut's most socially prominent, politically powerful, and wealthy residents. Industrialists, insurance executives, and financiers from the Hartford and Middletown areas built spacious cottages for their families along Fenwick's winding roads. Boating, bathing, tennis, and golf offered recreational diversion, as did social events at Fenwick Hall, a luxurious hotel that originally stood in the center of the settlement. Aided by its small size and isolated position, socially homogeneous population, and long-term ownership of the cottages, Fenwick developed a community identity that endures to the present.

Fenwick also has exceptional architectural significance; its buildings exemplify particular architectural styles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably the Shingle style. With their characteristic wood-shingled exteriors and broad rooflines, Fenwick buildings including more than one dozen large cottages represent one of the largest concentrations of well-preserved Shingle style buildings in Connecticut. [NR]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.oldsaybrookct.org/Pages/index.
[2] Borough of Fenwick Historic District, Report of the Historic District Study Committee, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] GIS information and Parcel IDs retrieved from the website http://ceo.fando.com/oldsaybrook/find.aspx?service=OldSaybrook.
[NR] Clouette Bruce and Cronin Maura, Fenwick Historic District, National Register Nomination Number- 95000437 NRIS, National Park Service, 1995 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/95000437.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/95000437.pdf.

The Borough of Fenwick, including most of the Fenwick National Register Historic District, lies within the local historic district. However, the boundaries of the National Register Fenwick Historic District vary somewhat from the local historic district. The National Register Fenwick Historic District includes the Fenwick Borough's office and barns, but excludes all but three houses on Sequassen Avenue and all but one house located off Wilson Avenue and Old Fenwick Road. These areas are predominantly characterized by modern construction. Modern cottages on the eastern edge of the Fenwick Historic District are also excluded. [NR]

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