Press Releases

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz



(STONINGTON, CT) – Today, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) announced it has approved Stonington’s application to create two Cultural Districts in town.

Cultural Districts are walkable areas of a city or town that feature numerous cultural facilities, activities and/or assets. These vibrant areas draw visitors from other towns and states and serve as a hub for residents to congregate and interact. Cultural districts:

  • Promote and encourage artists, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses

  • Promote tourism and increase visitation

  • Improve the quality of life for residents

  • Strengthen distinctive character of communities

  • Drive economic growth and expand the tax base

  • Highlight local culture and history

A requirement of the program is the city or town must establish a Cultural District Commission that manages all aspects of the district.

“Cultural districts promote tourism and give us the opportunity to really celebrate local artists, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses. I think it’s really fitting that Stonington is the first town to have two distinct districts, because there is just so much each district has to offer,” said Lt. Governor Bysiewicz. “As we look forward to the sunny days ahead, and we are all drawn to spending time outside and wanting to be by Connecticut’s beautiful shoreline, these cultural districts can offer a day's worth of activities – or even a reason to extend your stay and make it a staycation. And what a better way to show off the talent, culture, beauty, and history of our state to tourists. Congratulations to Stonington and to all who made this designation possible.”

“The Stonington Cultural District provides two very distinct experiences for visitors – the vibrant and trendy east side of Mystic Village (think Mystic Seaport, S&P Oyster House and Mystic Knotworks) and the ‘Borough’ with all the quintessential aspects of a New England fishing village, plus museums, restaurants, art galleries and shopping. Between the two, there is enough to entice visitors to come for a day or a week!” said Liz Shapiro, DECD’s Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums. “I look forward to seeing how this new approach to the Cultural District program will strengthen the town, serve the residents and welcome visitors from Connecticut and beyond.”

Stonington First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough expressed her delight. “We are so thankful for the efforts of our Cultural District Commission with support from our Economic Development Commission and SECT Cultural District Commission. Their collaborative work has culminated in the attainment of this prestigious designation. This achievement serves as testament to the remarkable outcomes that emerge when individuals unite to advance innovative ideas for the betterment of the community.”

While it becomes the seventh designated cultural district in the State, Stonington is the first Connecticut town to have two distinct districts: Mystic Bridge and Stonington Village. The Mystic Bridge District encompasses the Mystic Seaport Museum, past the Bascule Bridge and Mystic River Park, and extends to the Mystic train Station. The district hosts a myriad of community events--festivals, parades, concerts, shows, community sings, flotillas, walks, tours, and performances. Stonington Village District spans the length of the peninsula from the Point, past Stonington Lighthouse as well as Cannon Square, La Grua Center, the Portuguese Holy Ghost Society, the Lobster Trap tree site beside the shipyard, Wadawanuck Square, and extends to the historic Velvet Mill parade of shops. Galleries abound within both districts.

“The Stonington area is blessed with a quintessential coastal village that inspires artists, writers, sailors and boaters, fishermen, farmers and gardeners, historians, adventurers, explorers, and those valuing a slightly softened rhythm to life,” described Cultural District Commission Chair Paul Geise. “There is a neighborly intimacy to the village where artists abound, and galleries are deeply personal and inviting. Historic Stonington village and its neighbor Mystic are towns whose generational fishing and sea harvesting blood run deep, whose shipbuilding and sailing heritage date back over a century. The town docks in Stonington boast Connecticut's last commercial fishing fleet; and Mystic Bridge is one of the only surviving Brown type bascule bridges in the country, and the only one in Connecticut.”

Geise added, “Perhaps most significant among Stonington’s cultural assets, however, is the preserved blend of experiences and resources for both visitors and residents. Stonington is a magical place in which to love, linger, learn, and live.”

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Contact: Sam Taylor 

(860) 805-1408