STORRS, CT (WFSB) -- You might think that Storrs is UConn and very little else.
Certainly, when Charles and Augustus Storrs donated the land back in 1881, they couldn’t have possibly imagined what their benevolence would lead to.
Today, 80 years after the Storrs Agricultural School became the University of UConn, there are more than 32,000 students attending classes on the 4,400-acre campus.
That’s where our next installment of 20 Towns in 20 Days takes us to on Wednesday.
UConn may have put Storrs on the map, and to really enjoy the village in Mansfield, you might actually need a map.
There are more than 200 acres of hiking trails, meandering through the Albert E. Moss sanctuary, the Joshua Trust Property and Schoolhouse, and Brook Park.
Speaking of parks, the Storrs Adventure Park on the way into town provides zip-line and climbing challenges.
“Lots of climbers, lots of age levels, kids as young as 4, octogenarians come out and climb, you don’t have to be strong,” said Steve Carne, park manager.
Storrs is considered one of 17 historic villages in Mansfield, and nothing says history like the Gurleyville Grist Mill.
Preserved and maintained by Joshua’s Trust, the Mill first started grinding grain in the early 1700’s.
“The significance of this mill is its exactly the way it was when the gear broke in 1941. It couldn’t be replaced during the war so the building you see is the way it was in the late 1800’s,” said Quentin Kessel, of Joshua’s Trust.
There were grist mills everywhere in the 1700 and 1800’s. Flour didn’t keep for more than a few weeks so the grain had to be ground on a regular basis. The miller and his family usually lived nearby.
Wilbur Cross, son of a miller, grew up in the house across the street.
Just 10 minutes down the road to Storrs center, you’ll see one of the most unique museums in the world.
The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is the only one of its kind on a college campus.
Why a puppet museum at UConn, you ask?
Well, UConn is the only university in the country that offers a master’s degree in fine arts and puppetry.
There are puppeteers from the puppet arts program performing all over the world.
“You have your traditional hand puppets, string marionettes, rod puppets, but then you have giants puppets, there’s a King Kong show on Broadway, and mascots that appear at sporting events,” said Dr. John Bell, director of Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.
The museum features more than 3,500 puppets from all over the world.
The next stop is the UConn Dairy Bar.
Folks have been finding their way to the dairy bar for the last 65 years.
It serves more than 300,000 customers, 10,000 gallons of ice cream, 20,000 milk shakes every year. They’ve been making it the same way since 1953.
“The creamery production process, the best you’ll find in the state, suburb butter fat content and it really shows when you sample it, you can taste it,” said Ethan Haggerty, dairy bar manager.
The ice cream is made on premises, all 18 flavors, in fact, if you come at the right time you can see them making it.
They use milk from their own cows housed in barns just up the road.
Sterns Family Farms in Storrs provides the cream, they sell eggs provided by the college of Agriculture, and UConn students provide the work force.
The Marzi’s of Stafford Springs have been visiting since their kids were little, and now with their grandkids. Sometimes the visit started with a tour of the Dairy Barn.
“They thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the cow barn where they do the milking, and then of course, we always come here,” said Carol Marzi.
The UConn Dairy Bar, famous for its history and its quality, is a must-see Storrs landmark.
Also during a trip to Storrs, Ch. 3 is making a $1,000 donation to North Star Foundation, which is a non-profit dedicated to helping children with animal assisted therapy.
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