Lawlor / And so the Sasquanaug Association was born
In 1887, a prominent group of ladies got together in the Southport section of town and decided the village needed some civic improvements — and so the Sasquanaug Association was born. The very first order of business, after learning how to say the name correctly, was installing kerosene lampposts and bluestone sidewalks. The kerosene lamps have been replaced, but the bluestone sidewalks still line the streets of Southport some 130 years later.
Over the years, in addition to upgrading the streets, they wanted to preserve the historic integrity and character of the area, so the Association raised funds for community enhancement. The Association now includes a membership of over 100 both women and men.
Currently, the Sasquanaug Association owns and/or manages several properties, including the bucolic Southport Park which abuts the south side of the Post Road. They also manage Perry Green, a tranquil green park area near the harbor, once home to warehouses that stored the famous onions that were shipped up and down the East Coast. This harbor-side lawn is now a picnic and gathering place for families, dogs, or sometimes artists sketching. Another Sasquanaug property is the Robinson Cottage, a post- revolutionary home in the Village, located at the intersection of Main Street and Rose Hill Road.
The Association also owns The Sea Lodge at the eastern end of Southport Beach. The small wooden building serves as a beach club; it’s the second one that sits on the property. The original was toppled by a hurricane in the 1950s, but rebuilt.
The Association puts resources to work reviewing proposed building plans, opposing overdevelopment, preserving open space. and representing the area before Boards and government bodies. All that sounds like it is needed, but kind of dry and dull-- and it is. Michael Drew, a VP of the Association noted: “We are trying to expand association awareness throughout all of the 06890 zip code — our motto is ‘connecting the past with our future’. Lately there have been a number of challenges to our area and we need to have our neighbors actively involved.”
Their solution? “Treasures of Southport,” an open house event scheduled for September 10th from 1 to 4pm. It’s sort of a family friendly treasure hunt that begins at the Pequot Library, winds its way through Southport village and ends at a reception at the library with ice cream, hot dogs, beekeepers and games for everyone from grandparents to grandkids.
Coincidentally, Sept. 10 is Grandparents Day. The association often appeals to the grandparents in town--grandparents often have a respect for history, a desire for preserving open spaces and they have sat through their fair share of boring meetings. The challenge the Association is facing now is to get the grandchildren and their parents on board too. The Treasures of Southport event is their way to begin.
The event will also feature interactive displays and if you strike a pose at Southport Park, your photo will appear on the big screen at the Pequot Library. Many years ago, the Association asked longtime resident and renowned actor Jason Robards (Grandparents know who he is) to narrate a walking tour of Southport, which has now been updated and is available for download. (Ask your grandkids how to do it).
The Sasquanaug Association is slowly but surely moving into the 21st century.
As Mike Drew, chairman of Treasures of Southport puts it: “We are an organization with a mission to safeguard the past and at the same time deal with modern realities. The Sea Lodge needs to replace pilings to deal with new hurricane threats. Southport Park has been cleaned up with trails designated and needs ongoing maintenance as does Robinson Cottage. There is much work to be done and we’re continuing the legacy that began 130 years ago. “
Michael and the other board members would like future residents of town to point out items (like we do the blue stone sidewalk) and have them think the residents of our time cared too.
To register for the Sept. 10 Treasures of Southport Event (free), go to www.sasquanaug.org
Walking tour download