New Energy in Warren
Warren is a quiet little enclave, so pastoral that one can drive through it and barely register its presence, other than as a beautiful setting for a hillside church towering over the intersection of routes 45 and 341.
Unlike many of the neighboring villages, Warren has no significant center except for a small strip of buildings on Cornwall Road. With a population of approximately 1,500, Warren is nestled between the larger towns of Kent and Litchfield and was once actually part of Kent. Named for Revolutionary War General Joseph Warren, it was incorporated in 1786, just three years after the end of that conflict and has grown little since. But the bucolic setting belies a new bustle of activity.
That activity stems from the presence of John Favreau, a resident for the past 15 years. Prior to moving to Warren, he lived in New York City and did international corporate development and branding.
“My whole motive was to revitalize the center of Warren,” he explained. “It was too depressing to drive by and see these empty buildings. I wanted to bring them up to code and back to life.”
His efforts have resulted in full occupancy of the revitalized community.
Favreau closed on the center’s buildings in May 2018 and began restoration and renovations. Warren Town Center, as the complex is now known, consists of three separate buildings; the central one being the home of Warren General Store, which Favreau operates himself, along with his staff. It is the quintessential country store, open seven days a week and offering creative deli sandwiches, salads, baked goods, delicious coffee and a selection of kitchen and pantry staples and gift items.
The first building, erected n 1820, is the oldest of the three and now houses WKND, a clothing and accessories shop. Begun as a pop-up shop, it reopened in May as a permanent outlet. It was created by David Asmar, who worked in the fashion industry for many years and who, like Favreau, relocated from New York City to Warren.
Asmar offers a carefully curated collection for men, women, and children at affordable prices. “I wanted to create a store that is accessible to everyone—locals as well as weekenders,” Asmar explains. And he has done just that.
“The love and support shown by the community has been overwhelming,” says Asmar.
The third building in Favreau’s complex is Warren Works, a co-working space. There are three full-time working stations, a conference room and two smaller work spaces.
“There are two 1,500-square-foot spaces available above WKND,” says Favreau. “They would be ideal for a fitness studio. I am hoping to find a fitness/yoga instructor to utilize the space.”
Rounding out the Warren Town Center is the Warren Spirits Shop, originally established in 1977 and now owned by Richard O’Grady. He and Favreau have coordinated on several events, most recently a series of wine tastings with food supplied by the Warren General Store.
Favreau is delighted with the response to the center. He is dedicated to Warren, is president of the Warren Historical Society and chairman of the Wetlands Commission.
In addition to the new ventures revitalizing Warren, there are several other attractions that have been popular for many years. The Hopkins Inn, with its scenic views of Lake Waramaug, has welcomed travelers since 1847. Its restaurant is renowned for its contemporary Austrian cuisine but offers many distinctly American dishes. In addition to the indoor restaurant, there is seating on the flagstone terrace when weather permits. There are also12 guest rooms and two apartments available.
Angevine Farms has been owned and operated by the same family for more than 150 years. It is now on the hands of its fifth and sixth generations and offers homemade baked goods, vegetables, orchard products, poultry and eggs, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.
Take a pleasant a stroll or bike ride around Lake Waramaug, stop at the Warren Historical Society to learn more about this unique town that has been home to director Milos Forman, theatrical producer Morton Gottlieb, artist Cleve Gray, his wife, writer Francine du Plessix Gray and prize-winning author, Philip Roth.
Also look into Strawberry Ridge Vineyards, five picturesque acres overlooking the lake, famous for its Ascot Reserve Chardonnay.
And, depending on the season, Warren Woods, a public recreation space, offers a fall festival and summer concerts. Additionally, it is an ideal venue for a destination wedding.