National News

No Supermarkets, but Natural Beauty to Spare

Posted September 22, 2018 5:14 p.m. EDT

Theresa and Richard Miller hadn’t even started house-hunting when they found the home in Bridgewater, Connecticut, that they moved into last year.

Both were retired — Theresa Miller, 55, from the hospitality industry; Richard Miller, 58, from the New York Police Department, where he served in the Emergency Service Unit. (Richard Miller raised the first American flag at ground zero the day after the Sept. 11 attacks.) The couple, who volunteer to support veterans and emergency medical workers, were ready for a change but worried that the townhome they had bought in nearby Brookfield and lived in for six years wouldn’t sell.

Then a 2,829-square-foot, four-bedroom Cape Cod popped up on Theresa Miller’s computer. Perusing real estate websites was a pastime of hers, and that day she was searching in Bridgewater. “I never thought Bridgewater would be in our budget,” she said, “but this house met all our criteria.”

Just days later, while Richard Miller was working in their garage, a woman approached and asked if he might want to sell. After showing her around, Theresa Miller explained that they didn’t have a real estate agent. “'I don’t either,'” she told Theresa Miller, “'but I have cash, and I can close tomorrow.'” That was in March 2017. The Millers sold their house several weeks later and closed on the Bridgewater property in May. They paid $439,000 for the house, which was built in 1992 on four wooded acres.

“Living here is a healing retreat,” Theresa Miller said. “Whenever I cross into Bridgewater on the bridge over Lake Lillinonah, I exhale, and in that moment, I feel like I’m home.”

The long, narrow Lake Lillinonah forms the western border of Bridgewater, a tranquil 16.3-square-mile town at the southwestern tip of Litchfield County. Winding roads cut through forests and rolling hills where horses and cattle graze and stone walls meander. Its town center has several historic buildings, two 19th-century churches, a single store and restaurant, and a small green.

The town’s approximately 1,660 residents include affluent landowners, families who have farmed there for generations and people who work for both. Curtis Read, the town’s first selectman, estimated that at least a quarter of the residents are second homeowners. “We have some very wealthy people, and we have some people who get assistance from the town,” he said.

Aiming to combat declining enrollment in the schools, parents of school-age children have been working with the town to attract young families.

“This is a great place to retire,” Read said. “But we want more kids.”