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Located on Long Island Sound, 45 miles from New York City, Rowayton is a seaside community and part of Norwalk, Connecticut. The Sixth Taxing District of Norwalk governs the community. It annually plays host to a Shakespearean production from Shakespeare on the Sound in Pinkney Park. There is an active community of artists. Many of the artists are associated with the Rowayton Arts Center.
Many active local associations can be found in town. These include a Gardeners Club, the Civic Association, the Rowayton Library, a Parents Exchange, and the Historical Society. The community has one school which is an elementary school called Rowayton Elementary. The grades go from Kindergarten through fifth. Rail service also passes through Rowayton carrying many of its residents to their jobs in New York City. The station is on the New Haven line of Metro-North.
The National Register of Historic Places lists the former Rock Ledge estate on Highland Ave. It was added to in 1977. A Tudor revival mansion was built in 1910 by James A. Farrell, later president of United States Steel Corporation. It burned down in 1913 and was rebuilt in granite stone to prevent against future fires. The Sperry Rand Corporation later bought the estate. The site is notable in that the first commercial computer was developed on the site. The Rowayton Community Center and the Rowayton Library since 1966 have made their home in the Farrell family's former stables.
The Rowayton coastline has been a source of inspiration for centuries. John Fredrick Kensett frequently painted the coastline in his later life. He was a famous ninteenth century landscape painter of the Hudson School. Artists today continue Kensett's tradition to make for an active local arts scene.
Rowayton hosts a number of beaches including Roton Point, Bayley Beach, and a coastal enclave of Wee Burn Country Club. These three share a common history. In early 20th century, the properties of all three comprised the Roton Point Amusement Park. Daytrippers from New York City landed by boat at Sunset Rock. A trolley ran from both Darien and Norwalk coming to the Park via Highland Avenue and over present-day Langdon Preserve. Amenities at the Amusement Park included a picnic grove, bath house, and rides like the classic carousel and beach-view roller coasters. Famous musicians of the day including Benny Goodman visited the park's hotel porch to perform. World War Two and the Great Hurricane of 1938 put an end to the amusement park. However, the properties are still used throughout the summer. Bayley Beach is now town property, and hosts concerts and fireworks displays. Wee Burn Beach Club is the waterfront property of the established Country Club. Its clubhouse located in Darien.
Swimmers have been competing annually in a one-mile race from the Greens Ledge Lighthouse to Bayley Beach in Rowayton since 1935. This race is known today as the Arthur J. Ladrigan Swim Race. For example, on September 9, 2006, 300 people showed up to watch or partake in the community event run by the Rowayton Community Association. Ladrigan was a longtime Rowayton resident and lifeguard. In addition to the Ladrigan race, other races are held on the same day including a quarter-mile competition and several children's races in shallow waters. Other events on the same day include egg toss, tug-of-war, pie-eating contest, and a greased watermelon race. In 2006, Glenn Houck won the race for the third time in a row at a time of 18:57. His strategy is for aiming toward the river and not the beach. "Otherwise the current kills you," he said. According to the 2000 census, Rowayton is one of the wealthiest sections of Norwalk . The Bayley Beach day a great family centered community event with activities for all ages. Community residents love to join in on this event and have fun especially with all of the races.
Sponsored by the Rowayton Civic Association, 4th of July Fireworks are shot off sometime around July 4 each year from a barge offshore. A lottery has been held for 24 public, covered picnic tables at Bayley Beach for the fireworks event. Others have to bring their own tables or chairs.
Some notable people from the Rowayton area including Norwalk are: Philip Caputo, author whose best-known work is A Rumor of War (1977) John Frederick Kensett, nineteenth-century artist Andy Rooney, television commentator Treat Williams, actor