Downtown Putnam Perfect for Arts Lovers
For a long time, Putnam was known as the antique hub of New England. While it’s still a favorite of antiquers, the influx of a lot of new energy into its beautiful historic buildings and quaint street has given Putnam the reputation of a funky arts town. It’s easy to spend an entire day here taking it in, from cool stores to art to great food.
Start by popping into Sawmill Pottery to meet local artist and community activist Dot Burnworth. Her pottery studio and gallery, in the historic Montgomery Ward building, is a hub of artistic activity, with potters and shoppers alike buzzing around daily. She’s an incredibly talented artist and teacher, and the items for sale in her gallery (both her works and the works of her students) show it.
Then go upstairs to the Sochor Art Gallery to meet Sheri Sochor, the gallery owner. She represents many local artists and is the sole representative for Caroll Spinney, also known as Big Bird, who is an amazing artist in his own right. Sochor Art Gallery is the only place in the world – yes, the world – where you can buy Spinney’s art. Right behind Sochor’s gallery is Gallery by the Falls, which has an eclectic collection of original artworks.
You will also find Wonderland Books and Toys, which has so much more than books — they have awesome Anne Taintor products and really fun gifts — and Wonderland Comics, and a new shop called Glimpse of Gaia. Here you will find the most stunning “earth friendly” plants and flower arrangements, along with handcrafted gifts and accessories.
You can certainly still shop for antiques here, but dig a bit deeper and you will find Silver Circle Studio full of great artworks, jewelry, home accessories, and sculptures. They have also a gallery space displaying revolving shows of professional artists.
And then there’s the food. Putnam has it all, from high-end dishes and a glass of wine at 85 Main, to coffee and croissants (my favorite treat) at Victoria Station, a pizza or pasta at Bella’s Bistro & Market, a Coney Island hotdog at Nikki’s Dog House or an artful sandwich at Jessica Tuesdays Deli. All of these great little bistros offer outside dining. On a nice day, the sidewalk café areas are packed with people taking in the sun and enjoying the company.
Many of these shops and galleries are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and some even are closed on Wednesday, so your best bet is to visit Thursday through Sunday but call because things lively up for summer. The town of Putnam also sponsors many weekend events and festivals that spill out into the streets as well as Waterfire spectaculars where you can take in music and other festivities along a river a blaze with fire. Make it a weekend trip and stay at Thurber House, a classic bed and breakfast just beyond the hustle and bustle in one of Putnam’s more elegant neighborhoods.
Putnam is a friendly, eclectic little town with a big personality. Have fun with it!
Here is a press release outlining the Downtown Putnam Gallery Stroll Series, the first runs, June 19 from 1:00- 5:00.