101 Rowayton Avenue · Rowayton, Connecticut 06853
101 Rowayton Avenue was built in 1885 and is recognized by the Rowayton Historic Society as the Henry W. Wells' Wharf Place.
Around that time it served as a meeting place for the "Rising Sons of Temperance," who vowed to keep liquor out of Rowayton.
Soon after, Rowayton Oysterman Captain William J. Craw & his wife, Josephine bought the property and Josephine became the proprietor of "Mrs. Craw's Store" which sold local goods.
In 1903, the widowed Mrs. Craw was elected president of the board of the brand new "Rowayton Library" and subsequently rented a room in her former store and became home to the first library. Hence, the 101 Library Club Sandwich. Mrs. Craw's "room" served as the library for twenty-three years. The shelves of the old store acted as convenient places for the twenty-nine volumes donated as gifts by Mrs. John Sherman Hoyt of Contentment Island along with other books given by the Craws, the Hackleys, other local families, as well as 100 books on a monthly exchange from the state.
Under the presidency of Mrs. Craw, the group incorporated in 1905 and was run by a group of public-spirited citizens.
Mrs. Craw also gave use of eighty-eight acres of her land to a "Rowayton-on-the Sound" camp for girls founded in 1916 to teach them wireless telegraphy and eventually aviation, where they practiced flying in biplanes from the top of Craw Hill down to the beach. With World War I imminent, the girls aspired to be messengers and guides.
In 1926, the library moved into the former firehouse of the Reliance Hook and Ladder Company at 145 Rowayton Avenue at which time Nelson's Lobster House moved into the first floor and a group of local artists looking for exhibition space began using the 2nd floor of 101 Rowayton Avenue.
In the late 1960s, Joan Wilson, Anne Rose and Dallas Ernst operated the Rowayton Art Center's art gallery and highlighted many abstract expressionists, including Milton Avery. The famous Dadaist, Max Ernst visited the gallery once, as Dallas Ernst was his daughter-in-law. By Rowayton Art Center's first birthday, in the spring of 1961, the center expanded its space to include the downstairs of the building and begun a program of classes.
As the library moved on to a bigger occupancy in the handsome building that had housed the stables of the Farrell estate at 33 Highland Avenue - the Arts Center followed the library into the small yellow building of the Reliance Hook and Ladder Company at 145 Rowayton Avenue.
The building at 101 Rowayton Avenue has had numerous uses over the past one hundred and twenty five years, beginning as Craw's Hall Store: a "modern" grocery store, the first home of the Rowayton Library, Nelson's Lobster House, the first home of the Rowayton Arts Center, an Antique Shop, a Yacht Sales Center offering charter and outboard services, a Book Store and its present-day function as the home of Rowayton's favorite ice cream shop, Brendan's 101. In terms of Rowayton history, 101 is and has always been Rowayton's meeting place.
In 1988, 23 year old Rowaytonite Brendan McGee with the help of his father, his grandfather and some friends renovated the space into the Ice Cream/Sandwich Shoppe. The unique sign hanging over the front door is a curiosity. The aft of the salvaged boat is projected out of the front of the building towards the street and its hull runs through and into the ceiling above inside.
101 continues to act as the centerpiece of village activity offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and ice cream year round.
The newly renovated 101 Gallery space offers local artists solo exhibition shows with monthly receptions. The Gallery space is also transformed for birthday ice cream socials and other events. Each year during the holidays, Santa Claus rides the firetruck through town for the annual Santa Run and makes a stop at Brendan's 101 to collect "Toys for Tots" and on New Year's Eve, Brendan's hosts the town's "Time Square Ball Count Down". Family, friends, neighbors and customers from near and far - bear the winter temperatures to spend the final countdown of the old year and ring in the new year with song and cheer!
Brendan's 101 follows its predecessor, Mrs. Craw and contributes generously to numerous local drives such as,
The Farm Creek Fund, Shakespeare on the Sound, Rowayton Little League, Summer Music Festival, all Community Schools, Bayley Beach Playground improvements, the Memorial Day Parade (float participant), the Fourth of July Fireworks, and each year at the towns fund raiser, the River Ramble - Brendan's 101 donates the coveted "Golden Cone" which biders pays the top bid for an ice cream cone a day for life!.
There are currently 30 Golden Cones in existence!
Rowayton's social and cultural history live on today at Brendan's 101.
101 Rowayton Avenue
Rowayton, CT 06853
Brendans's 101 Today