Stars Hollow vs. Real Life: An Analysis from a Local in Connecticut

By Sarah Pfeffer (Special Guest Blogger)

Does Gilmore Girls accurately depict small-town living in New England? Sarah Pfeffer, a local resident of Kent, Connecticut, compares her hometown (and the surrounding area) to Stars Hollow.

But, I’m a Gilmore (too)!

I’m pretty new to Gilmore Girls, and began my binge of the series alongside my husband. We live in a rural Connecticut town and we both work at boarding schools. Naturally, we were curious. And, you may not believe this, but my sister’s married name is Gilmore and she has a young daughter. I quite literally have Gilmore Girls in my own family.

As we fell in love with Stars Hollow, I began to research the real town it might be based on, and that’s when I discovered this blog, Finding Stars Hollow. Amy’s posts were fabulous, creative, and well thought-out, and I began to comment with my insights. I started up some fun conversations with her and other fans, and here we are! I’m honored to be posting a guest blog post!

Let’s get right into it. Today, I’m going to talk about some comparisons between my hometown of Kent and Stars Hollow, as well as some similarities and differences between Chilton and real boarding schools.

If Luke’s Diner and Al’s Pancake World Had A Baby…

The Villager Restaurant is the closest to Luke’s Diner in look and feel. Everything from the green and red motif, bar stools, and delicious breakfast options screams Luke’s. Interestingly, this is also a Mexican place so it has this unique juxtaposition of Mexican, New Englandian, and European decor. It’s one of my favorite spots. The food is on-point and the prices are great!

You’ll notice quickly that my husband is my willing subject for many of these photos.

Luke would probably NOT approve of the holiday decor.

(Sometimes) A Sleepy Town – No background actors here!

Amy was absolutely right that in the winter, the streets are pretty quiet! Unlike in the magical, fictional town of Stars Hollow, people tend to want to stay inside most of the time in the winter because it gets VERY cold; however, during the fall, spring, and summer, there are people (including international visitors as well as weekenders from New York City) all around! In fact, this past summer, I even saw…

A Troubadour on the Green!

Passersby enjoyed this guy’s tunes and even dropped him some tips (that’s more than the Stars Hollow troubadour got)! There is also a pop-up farmers market during the summer, quite like the one that was stationed right outside of Doose’s market (much to Taylor Doose’s chagrin)! The funny part is that the Kent farmers market is also pretty close to our small IGA grocery store.

Antique Shops – “You break, you buy!”

There are plenty of antique shops in Kent. My favorite is the one that has a sign that says:
“Fun to look at…easy to hold…but if you or your child break it…consider it sold.” I can just hear Mrs. Kim in my head saying irritably, “You break it, you buy it!”


Quintessential White Steeple

There are SO many of these in the area. The left photo is a picture of the First Congregational Church of Kent and the right photo is of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Small Town Events – Like An Outdoor Book Sale!

There are a lot of town events that bring locals together. Take the outdoor book sale, which goes from summer to early fall and benefits the library: it’s simple, but gets quite a bit of foot traffic from Kent residents and visitors. There are also annual events like the Pumpkin Run, Firemen’s Ball, and most importantly, ICE WATCH. When I first moved to Kent, I could barely believe Ice Watch was a real thing, and I knew then I was living in small-town America. Voting cards for Ice Watch are placed in establishments around town, and for $2, you can guess when the ice will freeze on the Housatonic River. If this is not a Stars Hollow type of activity, I don’t know what is. The New York Times even wrote about it in an article titled: Where Watching the River Freeze is Half the Fun.

Victorian Houses and Charming Historic Buildings

They’re everywhere. The houses in the photos below really remind me of Lorelai’s or Sookie’s house. I swear the house pictured below looks exactly like the porch where Kirk found termites (from Season 2, Episode 11: Secrets and Loans)!


Everything’s cute here; even the pharmacy (photo below). It’s one of my favorite places to go; I can find anything from tchotchkes to necessities. This building reminds me A LOT of Miss Patty’s Dance Studio and where Stars Hollow holds their infamous town meetings!

Foliage: Better in Real Life

Autumn here is absolutely unbeatable and quite similar to the colors displayed on the Gilmore Girls credit sequence.

Lorelai rides her bike down a similar road in Stars Hollow.

Babette, Miss Patty? Yes, Everyone Knows Everyone.

The everyone-knowing-you-thing is actually quite real. I have lived in several towns around the state, and Kent is the first place I’ve lived where this is really true. The girls in the coffee shop (Kent Coffee and Chocolate) learn your name and your favorite drink, and you become pals. Same thing with the market, the wine and spirit shoppe, and even the Post Office! These people are so friendly! It took me a little while to adjust to it, but I absolutely love it. It’s so personal. You always see someone you know and get a smile, a wave, and some friendly conversation.

Alternatively, the way Gilmore Girls handles small town gossip is no exaggeration. Word gets around very fast, both in town and on the boarding school campus. Everyone is living in this little bubble and it’s pretty much like a giant game of telephone. I try to avoid this aspect as much as I can, but it’s definitely there and it can even be comical at times. Even the students get involved. I was just watching the episode where Jess comes back to town and Babette is ranting to Lorelai and Rory about how horrible Jess is…hysterical. There are definitely characters here who closely resemble that personality. If you’re going to live here, though, you just have to accept it. It comes with the territory.

Here is the lovely Jess from Kent Coffee and Chocolate. Outside of being a fabulous barista, she is studying art at a local college.

Chilton vs. Boarding Schools in Connecticut

This is the administration building where I work, originally built as a French-inspired honeymoon chateau.

Just like at Chilton, boarding school students here are expected to dress in a neat, clean, and usually preppy way. For boys, this means coat, tie, and khakis, and for girls, this often equates to a white shirt, snap tie, and skirt. For formal days, there is a specific dress code, and other days, there is not an exact uniform, but there is a strict dress code. If a skirt is too short or footwear is not up to code, students will likely be written up and/or asked to change.

Check out the uniform I wore (below) when I attended a small private elementary school in eastern Connecticut. VERY Chilton-esque, but in an uglier color!

A Real Life Max Medina?

I think it’s fair to say that my husband may very well be a modern Max Medina. He teaches English (American Literature, to be exact) at a Connecticut boarding school, is a smart dresser, treats his students with kindness and respect, and most of all, he has the hair. Check him out on campus below!

The Puffs: Real or Not Real?

There are no secret societies like The Puffs at the schools I am involved in…that I know of…but I suppose the whole point of these clubs is that teachers/staff would not know about them. There are certainly cliques based on interests, whether in sports, arts, technology, or media.

Not Quite The Franklin, But We’ll Always Have Paris

It’s a digital world now, so some things are a bit different from Gilmore Girls times, while others remain. Student-created digital newspapers are still very much alive at boarding schools, and regularly report on goings-on at the school. The reporters do not receive the same esteem as those on the newspaper staff at Chilton, however, and are often simply students who are interested in journalism and want to get credit and experience in that area.

Sports in Gilmore Girls vs. Real Life

Hockey in prep school is huge, so watching the guys at our school duke it out with throngs of cheering fans is very reminiscent of Dean in his hockey days. I often think of the episode when Rory realized that Dean had a new girlfriend at his game.

Fencing is most definitely still taught at boarding schools, but at the one where I used to work, students took a swing (literally) at stage combat. They used real theater swords (they’re heavy and ornate, but blunt) and sometimes wore costumes.

Similarly, the tradition of golf is very much alive in boarding schools, for both boys and girls. One of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls is when Rory learns golf and gossips at the club with her grandpa. There are golf courses aplenty in this area of Connecticut, and when it gets cold, there are even indoor courses where students can practice in the off-season.

“George Washington rode past this place” and more obscure history

On Rory’s graduation day, she talked about how the marble floors in the halls of Chilton were once walked on by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Well, my ears perked up when I heard this because I knew that Amy Sherman-Palladino had done her homework on local history. One of the dorms at the school where I work is called Beecher – it was once the original Harriet Beecher Stowe house but that was taken down piece by piece in the 1990s to be rebuilt as a museum. The current dorm is built in the exact footprint as the original.

At Chilton, it was said that Robert Frost donated the staircase banisters and Thomas Edison once lit a sconce somewhere on campus. Although these exact references do not exist to my knowledge at the schools here, they are still steeped in history. There is a spot on campus with a sign that reads, “George Washington rode past this place.” No one acts like it’s a big deal, but when I first started working there, I freaked out. How cool is that? The people here must be so accustomed to having famous historical people connected to the school that they forget to be excited. Sounds very Chilton to me.

(Editor’s Note: Sarah’s “George Washington rode past this place” photo reminds me of the funny and obscure historic relics from the Stars Hollow History Museum as seen in Season 5, Episode 18 (“Live and Let Diorama”). Check out a couple of gems that Taylor Doose curated in the photos below.)

A “Civil War Era Cannonball” that fell through the floor

According to Luke, “It’s a possible circa 19th century portrait of what we think may have been the founder of a school that possibly educated Ben Franklin’s cousins.”

Final Thoughts

There are almost endless connections between Kent and Stars Hollow. Every day, I find myself telling whoever is next to me: “That is totally a Stars Hollow type of person,” or, “This is such a Stars Hollow activity.” With all of its quirks, Kent is a beautiful place to live – nestled in the mountains yet still a train ride away from New York City – some might even say it is the perfect place to live.

Did I miss anything? Do you think your town is like Stars Hollow? Questions? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

This is downtown New Milford. The town as a whole is dissimilar to Stars Hollow, but the center of town…it’s almost exact, gazebo and all!


Share this page!
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone

Visiting “Stars Hollow” on the Warner Bros. Lot: Top 5 Tips for Gilmore Girls Fans

By Brittany Simmons (Special Guest Blogger)

Thinking about taking the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to catch a glimpse of Stars Hollow? Read about Brittany’s experience on the backlot and learn how you can make the most of your studio tour as a Gilmore Girls fan!

My Love for Gilmore Girls

The Warner Brothers Lot is home to my favorite TV show, Gilmore Girls. I started watching Gilmore Girls two years ago when it was put on Netflix. From the moment I heard Lorelai beg Luke for more coffee, I was hooked. Once my family started watching the show with me, it made it even more special. My mom is my Lorelai Gilmore and through our relationship, I was able to relate to Lorelai and Rory in a special way. Since staring my Instagram account about the show, named @GilmoreGirlsOnly, last December my fondness for it has grown even more and continues to grow with every post, fan interaction, and experience I have. I am super lucky to live close to Warner Brothers studio and to have had the opportunity to go on their tour three times. With the upcoming release of the Gilmore Girls revival titled, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I decided to visit the Warner Brothers tour again in December of 2015, when the construction was beginning to take place.

The Initial Moments of the Tour

The thing that I love most about the Warner Brothers tour is that each visit is a new, unique experience. My main focus for the tour this time was to find as many Gilmore Girls landmarks as I could and to see if I could sneak a peek at the revival construction. I immediately spotted a poster of Rory Gilmore and a behind the scenes photo from season 2 of the show after walking into the lobby and knew from there that my day would be a success. After being separated into multiple groups, I was led to a tram by my tour guide. We introduced ourselves, told him our favorite shows, and explained why we were excited to go on the tour. From there, we were off on our journey through entertainment history. When we finally arrived at Anytown U.S.A. – home to Stars Hollow- I was initially in a state of shock due to the emptiness of the city.

An Empty Backlot

Luke’s Diner wasn’t a diner. The gazebo was nowhere to be found. The buildings were almost unrecognizable. The town of Stars Hollow was deserted. The fast-talking town was silent. Our tram drove by the empty shop windows. Workers were busy painting the details back into the set: to bring Stars Hollow back to life.

Star’s Hollow Book Store, Miss Patty’s School of Dance, Doose’s Market, Mrs. Kim’s Antique Shop, and the Church were all visible while on the tour. Although their names were not displayed in the familiar fashion seen on the show, true fans were able to decipher which towns member owned what building.

The Deception of Television

Television is sneaky. It takes a strip of houses located directly next to a town and makes it appear miles away. As a viewer of the show, you would have never guessed that Sookie St. James’ house was located walking distance from the Church. You also wouldn’t know that Lorelai and Rory Gilmore’s house was directly attached to Sookie’s house; that by walking through one house, you arrived at the other.



Now, you might be thinking: how can this be? Didn’t they film inside of their houses? Where is the interior? The furniture that we know and love? This is where the magic of television tip-toes back into the picture. The majority of the interiors of the houses and the Dragonfly Inn were actually filmed inside of a soundstage. The soundstage, which is about the size of a warehouse, can be manipulated into multiple, different locations solely separated by a wall. The entire Gilmore house was filmed (most likely without a roof) inside of adjacent rooms (similar to the layout of a house) located inside of a soundstage that contained a replica of the outside of the Gilmore house for when someone needed to walk in and out of the home.

A Unique Photo-Opportunity

Now, if you did go on the tour and walked into the Gilmore House standing outside you would see two things: 1) an empty space and 2) the stairs that Lorelai and Rory walked down multiple times throughout the series. On the exterior portion of the house, the stairs that the cast walked up and down on to get inside of the house are still there and provide a wonderful photo opportunity where you can recreate some famous scenes from the show.

My suggestion is using the lawn to recreate when Rory comes home after her fight with Lorelai or using the photo my mom and I replicated to create the perfect mother-daughter moment. Lorelai’s garage, where Help Alien performed and Luke’s boat resided, is still intact and located adjacent to the house. Inside, there is the smallest piece of pink wallpaper from the show that was preserved by the Warner Brothers community. Sadly, my tour did not have the same love for Gilmore Girls as I did, so we could not stay in the vicinity of the house long, but the few minutes I got to stand in the footsteps of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are moments that I will never forget.

Top 5 Tips for the WB Tour

  1. When you meet your tour guide, let him know that you are a big Gilmore Girls fan.
  2. There will most likely be 8-10 strangers on the tour with you. Be loud and speak up to your tour guide so you can have the best experience possible.
  3. If you really want to see a specific place, let your tour guide know. For example, in order to see the Gilmore house, I had to yell at my tour guide to stop the tram.
  4. For the most accessibility, go on the tour on the weekends.
  5. If you want to possibly see a celebrity, go on the tour on the weekdays.

I’ll be back!

The Warner Brothers tour will always be one of my favorite places to go to in Los Angeles and will continue to provide the perfect look into the entertainment business for fans. I will definitely go back there in the future and encourage all of you to check it out as well! To book a tour time and get more information go to: https://www.wbstudiotour.com/tour.


Share this page!
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone

Make Your Kitchen Look Like Luke’s Diner: Free Printable “No Cell Phones Sign” to download and print at home!


One of my favorite things to look for on my elusive search for a real-life Stars Hollow is a town diner just like Luke’s. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a diner like Luke’s yet, but I thought it would be fun to recreate the funny “No Cell Phones” sign that hangs behind his counter near the coffee machine. Feel free to print this up and post it on your refrigerator. Of, if you want to get really fancy, frame it! Just be prepared to get odd looks from all the iPhone and Android obsessed users out there. :)

NOTE: Free for personal use only. Although this printable file is free, it cannot be sold or distributed without prior permission.

nocellphone_mockup_blog2

Download File Below


Luke's Diner Poster on Etsy

I Needed More Luke In My Life, So I Created This Retro Diner Poster

If you fantasize about walking into your neighborhood greasy spoon and seeing a man in a flannel shirt and backwards cap serve you breakfast (and begrudgingly refill your coffee), then this artwork is for you! The inspiration for this new poster design came from vintage advertisements from the 1950s-1960s. Coffee, coffee, coffee! Check it out on Etsy here.

Save

Share this page!
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone

Stars Hollow Vintage Travel Poster & ATX Gilmore Girls Reunion Celebration GIVEAWAY (Winners Announced)

I am a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan and I created this vintage travel poster as a discreet way to show my love for the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Even though I’ve never lived in Stars Hollow, this poster feels like “home” to me, and I hope it feels that way to other fans, too! I actually showed this version, along with a RED version, to a very passionate Gilmore Girls fan club on Facebook, and I had an overwhelming number of votes for the BLUE version, though I must say, the RED version “pops” more, and lends itself to a more retro print look.

This artwork is meant to be discreet so to the outside eye, it looks like a vintage travel poster from yesteryear, but I had to add little touches here and there, such as a sign for LUKE’S and of course, the famous Gazebo, Church & Dragonfly Inn.

Buy this poster!

You can now purchase it on Etsy! After the feedback I received on Facebook from my fellow GG fans, I am having a large quantity of blue posters printed. However, since some people feel strongly about the red version, I decided to offer it as well, but it will be a special order. :)

Win this poster!

In celebration of the Gilmore Girls Reunion at the ATX Festival tonight, I am giving away 3 FREE Stars Hollow Posters! To enter this contest, please click here to share this post on Facebook or RETWEET this post and write a comment about what you love about Stars Hollow, or why you would like this poster, and I’ll choose 3 winners. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you!

Update (6/24/15): Stars Hollow Poster Giveaway Winners

Thank you all for participating! I loved, loved, LOVED reading all of your wonderful comments about Stars Hollow! And the winners are… Lex Zuniga, Lidia and Maria! I will be contacting you via e-mail for your shipping addresses. :)

Now let’s all hope for a Gilmore Girls movie so we can revisit Stars Hollow once more!

Share this page!
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone

Litchfield, CT vs Stars Hollow

Remember when Luke lived in Litchfield?

Because of its close proximity to Kent and Washington Depot, Litchfield, CT seemed like an obvious detour to take on our road trip to Stars Hollow. Plus, in Season 4, Episode 11 of Gilmore Girls (“In the Clamor and the Clangor”), Luke references the town when he tells Lorelai that he moved to Litchfield with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Nicole.

A town green but not a square…

I definitely found Litchfield to be worthy of a pit stop. Even though activity on the main street was non-existent, the quaint and beautifully decorated storefronts (as seen in my video) align with what you’d expect from a charming, archetypal New England town. While I didn’t exactly see a Luke’s Diner type of establishment, the upscale restaurant, West Street Grill looked equally inviting. I just wish the town green had more of the “hug” factor that makes Stars Hollow feel so cozy and isolated from the rest of the outside world. As it stands now, the town green of Litchfield is very one-sided – basically it consists of a grassy area next to a street full of businesses, as opposed to being nestled in a square encompassed by businesses and community buildings on all sides.

Other Similarities to Stars Hollow

  1. Abundance of rustic, festive street decorations that really give you that small, hometown feeling.
  2. Charming, walkable town green dotted with independently-owned shops and restaurants.
  3. There’s also an antique shop, though it’s not situated inside a home like Mrs. Kim’s.

Major Differences from Stars Hollow

  1. No gazebo.
  2. No town “hug” factor – it’s more like a street and not an enclosed town square like Stars Hollow.
  3. No casual American eatery similar to Luke’s Diner.
  4. Not much foot traffic even though there are quite a few restaurants and shops!

About my quest – see my video footage of Litchfield and other towns that look like Stars Hollow!

I’ve been obsessed with the quirky town of Stars Hollow for years now, and did some research online to see which towns resembled it the most. I scoured blogs, articles and forums, taking notes from real Connecticut residents and other Gilmore Girls fans, who were also on a similar quest. Then, I narrowed down a comprehensive list of the top towns to visit on my journey to finding a real-life version of Stars Hollow. See the video of my journey above!

Share this page!
Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone