Travel, Writing

Island Retreat

In my historical fiction manuscript (The Cottage Industry), the main character, David Enders, sails a catboat out of Stonington, Ct. He passes Enders Island, which he takes to be a good omen. It isn’t.

To me, the island was just a spot on a chart (just below Mason Island on the Connecticut shoreline). So, I drove over to check it out. You can drive onto the island because the original owner, Thomas B. Enders, MD, built a causeway connecting the 11-acre island to the larger Mason Island in 1920. I guess he didn’t want to wait for low tide to wade across the gap. He bought the island in 1910 and started the very large stone house in 1918. 

The house is still there. Today the island and its numerous outbuildings serve as a Catholic retreat of some kind. Which I suppose is better than having had the island turned into some rich man’s private kingdom, complete with helipad and guard shacks. There are enough of those dotting Long Island Sound. At least this retreat is open to the public. The island acreage is a curious mix of old estate, construction site, and quarry. All the ongoing stonework seems intended to hold back the rising tides. I’m guessing prayer wasn’t sufficient.

When I named my fictional character, Enders I wasn’t aware of the various Enders from the Hartford area. Of course, I knew of John F. Enders (1897-1985), the famous microbiologist and vaccinologist who won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Medicine. There’s the above Thomas Enders who built the island estate. Then there is Thomas O. Enders (1931-1996) who was an American diplomat. His uncle was John F. Enders, and his father was Ostrom Enders, president of the Hartford National Bank. Farther back, there is Thomas O. Enders (1832-1894) whose two sons were Thomas B. (above) and John O. Enders, the banker. My Enders isn’t so well connected or funded.