Diana Gallagher and her husband, Tony Patelunas, ended up in the Hartford suburb of Glastonbury, Conn., almost by chance. In 2021, they were living in Windham and looking for homes in the general vicinity, close to the University of Connecticut, when a colonial-style house in Glastonbury caught their eye.
Built in the 1970s, the five-bedroom home sat on an acre bordering Roaring Brook. “You can see the back of the property from inside, and it feels like you’re in the forest,” Ms. Gallagher said. “The privacy on the outside pervades the inside as well.”
The house was listed for $419,000, but the market was competitive enough that Ms. Gallagher, 37, and Mr. Patelunas, 34, knew they had to offer more. They eventually paid $452,000.
Since then, the couple have come to appreciate not just the open space, but all the coffee shops. Ms. Gallagher, a gymnastics coach, writer and adjunct professor of English at Manchester Community College and Eastern Connecticut State University, regularly takes her laptop downtown, to Daybreak Coffee Roasters, in hopes of landing a window seat — “that’s my most coveted spot.”
Stephen Tudisco, 51, moved to Glastonbury from Hartford two years ago, very intentionally: He wanted to shorten his commute to work at Connecticut Natural Gas, in East Hartford. When he found a move-in-ready, two-bedroom condominium listed for around $200,000, he too bid over the asking price, buying the unit for $222,000.
“I like that the town is well maintained, very clean,” Mr. Tudisco said. “I’m close to a lot of outdoor stuff, but also just two miles from downtown.”
When David and Kelly Muccino bought a home in Glastonbury last year, they were already partial to the town — Ms. Muccino, 34, a child life specialist, grew up there. And they considered the public schools “extraordinarily strong,” said Dr. Muccino, 37, a pediatrician.
The couple found a five-bedroom colonial with a ground-floor primary suite that “many people may have possibly missed,” Dr. Muccino said, because it was listed on Zillow as a for-sale-by-owner property.
They went to see it right away, and ended up getting it for around $575,000. The couple, who are planning to start a family, are especially pleased that the home is only three blocks from Buttonball Lane Elementary School, which Ms. Muccino attended. Her former high school sports coach lives across the street.
Lisbeth Becker, the registrar of voters, said the town of roughly 35,000 residents has grown considerably since she moved there in 1993. In addition to gaining many larger homes, it has added apartment buildings, 55-plus housing and assisted-living facilities.
“In my neighborhood, we’re pretty much the older people now,” she said. “There’s been a lot of turnover.”
What You’ll Find
Glastonbury is about six miles south of Hartford, in Hartford County, and covers more than 50 square miles, extending east from the Connecticut River into hilly terrain. A mix of affluent suburban neighborhoods and working farms, it also includes more than 2,000 acres of town-owned preservation land and a swath of the Meshomasic State Forest.
Grand historic homes from the 17th and 18th centuries line a central section of Main Street not far from the river. Riverfront Park has a playground, community center, pavilion, playing fields and a water-facing venue that can be reserved for functions.
The downtown area has become “incredibly bustling” over the past decade, which has contributed to the rising demand for real estate, said Michelle Collins, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties: “There are a lot of great restaurants and shops, a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe’s. It’s a pedestrian-friendly center.”
The town’s agricultural heritage is well preserved in its southern section, which has orchards, produce farms and a winery. Many of the farms have retail markets and offer subscriptions to weekly shares of produce during the summer and fall.
Social clubs and athletic amenities are plentiful, including a half dozen private pool clubs, several public pools, Glastonbury Hills Country Club, the nine-hole Minnechaug Golf Course, an indoor rock-climbing facility and Eastbury Pond, where residents swim, fish and ice skate.
The state-operated Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry is touted as the nation’s oldest continuously operating ferry service, dating to 1655. It offers passage over the Connecticut River between the two towns from April through November.
The family-owned Glastonbury Citizen newspaper, more than 70 years old, keeps the community current on school sports and community events.
What You’ll Pay
Inventory is low — about half of what it was at this time last year, said Linda Edelwich, a real estate agent with William Raveis. “We’re selling everything that hits the market,” she said. “If something doesn’t sell in a few days, people are like, ‘What’s wrong with it?’”
As of mid-June, there were about 35 active listings for single-family homes, from a 1,600-square-foot, four-bedroom house on 0.44 acres, listed for $389,000, to a 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house on 7.5 acres, listed for $3,999,999.
The median sale price for a single-family home for the 12 months ending June 8 was $476,000, based on 344 sales. For that price, one can typically get a 2,000-square-foot, three- or four-bedroom house that may need some work, Ms. Edelwich said.
The wide variety of housing, Ms. Collins said, includes numerous antique homes; Capes, ranches and colonials built from the 1950s through the 1970s; modern homes built in the 1980s; and large colonials built in the 1990s. Recently, there has been some new construction, with prices starting at around $1 million, she said, but most of it has already sold.
The median sale price for a condominium during the 12 months ending June 8 was $265,000. Condos are especially hard to come by these days. As of last week, there was just one available; about a dozen were under contract.
The median rent across all property types is $2,500, according to Zillow.
Glastonbury brims with opportunities for community connection. The Newcomers’ and Neighbors’ Club organizes family and adult events, including a book club, wine tastings and “ladies’ night out.”
During the summer, there are free outdoor concerts at Riverfront Park, while orchards and berry farms host pick-your-own experiences.
Members of the Glastonbury River Runners group wind up their Saturday morning jogs at local coffee shops. “The club is more of a social club that has running as the commonality,” said Ms. Gallagher, who is a member. “It makes me feel like I’ve found a community, for sure.”
The annual Apple Harvest and Music Festival (known as Applefest) is the event of the year, with the Rotary Club’s Lobsterfest a close competitor. Applefest, which claims Riverfront Park for three days every October, features amusement-park rides, live music, food trucks, a pub and a 5K road race.
The Glastonbury public school district serves roughly 5,700 students. About 67 percent identify as white, 13 percent as Asian, 12 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 3 percent as Black and the remainder as two or more races. About 11 percent qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Five elementary schools serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade: Buttonball Lane, Hebron Avenue, Hopewell, Naubuc and Nayaug. The district also offers a preschool program for a fee.
Sixth graders attend the Gideon Welles School, while Students in seventh and eighth grades attend Smith Middle School, which has an enrollment of about 865.
Glastonbury High School has about 1,865 students. The four-year graduation rate is 99 percent. In 2021-22, the average SAT scores were 565 in reading and writing and 565 in math, compared with state averages of 501 and 485.
The drive to Midtown Manhattan takes two to three hours, depending on the time of day and traffic.
Hartford Union Station is about 15 to 20 minutes away. The trip on Amtrak to Penn Station in Manhattan takes a little less than three hours; the one-way coach fare can start at around $17 and range up to more $100, depending on when tickets are bought.
Glastonbury is the birthplace of the Aqua Velva line of skin-care products, including the after-shave long known for its tagline: “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man.” The J.B. Williams Company began producing the products in its Glastonbury soap-making factory in 1917. The brick factory space exceeded 225,000 square feet at the company’s height, between the world wars, according to the area’s nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places. Control of the manufacturer was sold to a New Jersey company in 1957, and the buildings were sold in 1960. One of the remaining factory buildings now houses condominiums.
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