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What's in a name?

Village charm, simple hospitality, long history, and six legacies of two distinctive Warrens

Email|Print| Text size + By Doug Warren
Globe Staff / November 16, 2003

Think of the things that bind New England: mountains Green and White, the rocky coast and sandy shore, the trackless forests and hillside farms, the gritty cities and humble villages.

Then there are the Warrens.

More than just a surname of some distinction, the Warrens of New England actually link the region by their very existence. There is a town by that name in each of the six states -- and it is the only town name that can boast such ubiquity. (It should be noted that there is a town of Washington in five New England states, but in Rhode Island it exists as a village of Coventry.)

That the Warrens are more prevalent than towns bearing the names of such distinguished figures as Lincoln (none in Connecticut) and Jefferson (only in Maine and New Hampshire) can be attributed to the preferences of our forefathers and the fact that they are actually named for two very different men.

Two of the towns are named for Admiral Peter Warren of the British Navy, who earned the admiration of the Colonists when he captured the French fortress at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, in 1745. The other four are named for Dr. Joseph Warren of Boston, a heroic Revolutionary War general who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.

And be assured New England is not parochial in its fondness for Warrens -- there are more than 30 towns and cities bearing the name across the United States.

Being intrigued by all things Warren, we decided to visit each of the six in New England to get a sense of the people and life as it is lived in each place.

What we found, after driving nearly 1,400 miles, were towns in the mountains and by the sea that ranged in size from more than 11,000 residents to fewer than 900. We found great wealth, hard times, and communities all wrestling with the pressures of growth and development and change that is inevitable.

We also discovered many rewarding things to do, places to eat and sleep, and people who were invariably welcoming, proud of where they live, and eager to share the best attributes of their particular Warren.

In other words, we found New England.

Where to stay

West Hill House

1496 West Hill Road

Warren, Vt.

800-898-1427

www.westhillhouse.com

Innkeepers Doty Kyle and Eric Brattstrom make visitors feel at home in their beautifully appointed eight-room bed-and-breakfast. Rooms $125-$180 ($10 more during holidays and foliage season).

The Hopkins Inn

22 Hopkins Road

New Preston, Conn.

860-868-7295

www.thehopkinsinn.com

Eleven guest rooms and two apartments in a handsome inn that has been welcoming guests since 1847. Dine inside or on the garden terrace overlooking lovely Lake Waramaug. Rooms $85-$190.

Warren Village Inn

254 NH Route 25, South Main Street

Warren, N.H.

603-764-5600

www.warrenvillageinn.com

The former home of potato baron Frank Clement, restored by Merv and BJ Newton, welcomes visitors to the ''quiet side of the mountain." Rooms $79.

Where to eat

Rod's Grille

6 Washington St.

Warren, R.I.

401-245-9405

Rod's prize-winning weiners, with their secret meat sauce, have been packing them in since 1951. At $1 apiece, have two weiners, and a small side of fries for $2.25, and you are in lunch heaven for under $5.

The Warren House Restaurant

2585 Sugarbush Access Road

Warren, Vt.

802-583-2421

www.thewarrenhouse.com

Originally, the Sugarbush Sugarhouse, the aptly named Warren House serves delicious contemporary cuisine with rustic charm near the ski area entrance. $4.95-$24.95.

Garlic Clove

17 Tarleton Road, Route 25C

Warren, N.H.

603-764-9360

Owners Stephen and Charles Eddy serve up a tasty whole roasted garlic bulb with olive oil and fresh bread for $3.95. A bowl of vegetable beef soup ($5.95) and a 16 oz. Anchor Steam draft ($3.50) and you're set for the day.

Silver Lane Bistro

1 Silver Lane

Warren, Maine

207-273-6464

The only place in town with a full liquor license, Silver Lane Bistro seats 30 people in a former sheep shed. Diners come from up and down the coast to sample hanger steak and brick-oven seafood pizza. $2.95-$19.95.

What to do

Hopkins Vineyard

25 Hopkins Road

New Preston, Conn.

860-868-7954

www.hopkinsvineyard.comTake a tour of the vineyard or enjoy a tasting, and take home some of the fine wines produced on the hillsides above Lake Waramaug.

The Warren Store

284 Main St.

Warren, Vt.

802-496-3864

www.warrenstore.com

Shop at your own risk. The downstairs is full of gourmet items, fine wines, and an outstanding bakery/deli. Upstairs you'll find irresistible clothes, jewelry, decorative accessories, and retro toys.

Dish

155 Water St.

Warren, R.I.

401-247-7705

Mother-daughter team of Sara Volino and Keri Cronin have opened a gem of an ''upscale boutique" in a part of town known for antiques and used goods. A small space filled with unique clothing, lingerie, jewerly, and accessories.

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