District Overview Inventory List District Map

Mystic River 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.

Year of Establishment:
District Authority:
Historic District Commission, Mystic
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Town center

Buildings, Parks, Sculpture, Waterfront

Architectural Style:

Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne

18th century, 19th Century and 20th Century

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]

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]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.groton-ct.gov/
[2]Groton Historic District Study Committee Report, 1974, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] Historic District Handbook, Town of Groton, http://www.groton-ct.gov/depts/plandev/docs/HistDist_Handbook.pdf.
[4] Assessors and GIS information retrieved from the website http://maps.groton-ct.gov/GrotonViewer/.
[NR] Ransom David F., Mystic River National Register District, National Register Nomination Number- 79002728 NRIS, National Park Service, 1978 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/79002728.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/79002728.pdf

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.

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