Saugatuck. Compo Beach. Longshore.
You hear “Westport,” and those come to mind.
But Sherwood Mill Pond — the 84-acre tidal estuary and verdant salt marsh stretching from I-95 to the Long Island Sound — is just as important and historic as any of those better-known spots.
And its beauty rivals any place around.
The Pond’s impact dates to 1705. As the 1st working grist mill — powered by tidal shifts — it provided the commerce required to be chartered.
For ages, the Mill Pond supported a thriving oyster and clam trade. “Captain Allen” was an original supplier to Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. He later opened Allen’s Clam House, a beloved landmark, on the pond’s Hillspoint Road shore.
The pond nearly died in the late 20th century. But it roared back to life — along with more than 70 species of birds and aquatic life that call it home.
A couple dozen homes front the Mill Pond, across from Old Mill Beach. Others face Long Island Sound on Compo Cove, accessible by foot over a pair of wooden bridges.
Homes were first built in the 1920, on lots selling for $200. Today they’re among the most coveted — and unique — residences in town.
That history — commercial, environmental and personal — is now told in a gorgeous book. Westport author, artist and teacher Judith Orseck Katz has created “The Beautiful Pond,” a stunning watercolor and text tribute to this special place.
The pages take readers through the pond’s transformation from a working mill, to a beloved and bucolic sanctuary for coastal life of all types (including human).
And — in keeping with the important environmental theme — Katz and the book’s sponsor, Mill Pond resident Robin Tauck, are partnering with Sound Waters. All proceeds fund the organization’s academic enrichment programs for low-income students, via SoundWaters’ STEM Academy.
Katz has weaved together history, environment and personal memories, creating a wonderful book. Her drawings and words range from cormorants and seagrass to the Sherwood family and Allen Raymond; from tidal gates and hurricanes to the Coleys and Northrops.
Many Westporters — some of them longtime residents — know nothing about the Mill Pond. Driving past on Hillspoint or I-95, they never even notice it.
Plenty of others — including those who swam long ago in its clear waters, and finally can do so once again — are awed by its beauty, serenity, and historic grace.
This book is for all of them.
(“The Beautiful Pond” is available soon at Barnes & Noble and Earthplace. To pre-order in hard cover ($45) or soft cover ($25), click here. All proceeds benefit SoundWaters.)