Famous for Brownstone Quarries

Portland Connecticut  has just been named number 88 of Money Magazines 100 Best Small Towns to Live In. For this small town of just over 9600 people, this is a major honor. Local residents have always known that there was something special about Portland but it is always nice to have a major magazine confirm that for you.  It was one of only five towns in Connecticut to make the list.  Currently the town is going through trying times as the Arrigoni Bridge which connects Portland to Middletown and to Route 9 is undergoing much needed repairs. Residents have two years of hell to look forward to and the traffic issues are making Portland much less desirable as a destination for dining out as well.

Portland takes its name from the city of Portland, England. It was originally part of Chatham and became an independent town in 1841. Chatham is now the town of East Hampton. Portland is located on a bend in the Connecticut and there is an island in the river between Middletown and Portland. It is called Gildersleeve Island and in the past was a place people went for a picnic, today it is not used. In the early 19th century ship building was an important part of the town of Chatham. The area of Portland that is now Gildersleeve is where the ship yards were located. The area on Indian Hill Avenue has been declared a historic district and there are 18th and 19th century homes on this street. The Petzold  Boat Yard is located on the spot where the early ship building area was located. There is no trace of the earlier shipyard.

Portland is famous for its brownstone quarries. For over 200 years they provided brownstone for most of the rest of the United States. Most of the brownstones in New York City were built with brownstone from Portland as were many churches around the country including the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina.

Portland has two elementary schools. Valley View has grades K-2 and Gildersleeve has grades 3 and 4. Brownstone Intermediate School is located in the historic brownstone former high school on Main Street and includes grades 5 and 6. The Middle School is now located adjacent to the high school on High Street. Portland is known for the quality of its schools and the education they impart to the students.

There are several churches in town, The First Congregational, Trinity Episcopal, United Methodist, True Vine, Zion Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist and St. Mary Roman Catholic. They are very active churches and many work together on projects.  There are monthly dinners, fairs and festivals frequently.

Portland has its share of local parades and activities. The main attraction in town these days is the Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park. For many years the quarries had stood abandoned and largely used as a dumping ground for stolen cars and unwanted ones as well. Today, this same quarry is a place to zip line, scuba dive, swim and enjoy a bunch of activities. People come from all over to take part in the adventure.

There are several restaurants that are worth trying out in Portland. Portland Restaurant or PR as it is known to locals is a favorite as are Campagna, Farrells, Winchester Café and Eggs Up. You won’t go hungry in Portland and even this small town has three Dunkin Donuts. There is one grocery store, Tri-town, a couple of farm stands and even a Burger King and a Subway.  There is also a hotdog truck that can be found on Marlborough Street every day of the week. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it, it is shaped like a hotdog and pulled by a yellow cab.

Due to the current real estate market, there are more houses for sale in Portland at more affordable prices than there have been in years. There are senior apartments and houses as well. Apartments are not abundant in Portland but there definitely are some.

Portland is a great place to live and with the addition of the adventure park, a great place to visit as well.