The COMO Legacy
The Stonington Community Center, affectionately nicknamed the COMO, was established as a nonprofit over 70 years ago to aid in the physical, social, mental and personal growth of the young people and adults of the local community. Since then, the COMO has grown to include the main building, two athletic fields, tennis courts, paddle tennis courts, a children's garden, playground, pond, duBois beach, Sandy Point beach, a pottery studio, and the ever-popular Thrift shop. Families benefit from COMO community events, youth and adult programming, award-winning childcare and the continually expanding facilities that serve as community meeting space.
The first meeting of the Stonington Community Center (COMO) took place on July 16, 1945, leading to the opening of the Stonington Community Center building in Ambulances Corps Hall on April 1, 1946. Around this same time, the thrift shop was established, founded by Mrs. A. H. Gildersleeve, who determined the British War Relief efforts should now be directed locally, specifically to benefit the COMO.
In April 1957, the COMO continued to grow with the addition of two new tennis courts on Cutler Street and the purchase of Owen's Field. The COMO programs and services were outgrowing the capacity of the physical building at this time. A new building was built and opened on November 15, 1969. The new building housed the Doris Muller Preschool, a large gymnasium, an auditorium and several classrooms. On March 15, 1974 the property upon which the Annex and Thrift Shop stand was acquired.
Due to community interest, in 2013 the COMO Campus constructed a full paddle tennis court, bringing paddle tennis back to the Stonington community. Thanks to the generous donations from friends of the Stonington Community Center, and led by the efforts of the COMO Platform Tennis Advisory Group (PTAG), the $250,000 project included two aluminum platform tennis courts, along with heaters, lights, viewing deck and warming hut.
The COMO continuously works to beautify the campus. In 2007, in partnership with the Stonington Garden Club, the COMO welcomed the Children's Garden- a place for youth and adults to connect with their natural surroundings, garden and develop a natural appreciation for plant life.
In 2015 the COMO partnered with the Stonington Village Improvement Association to restore the pond in front of the COMO to its original state. With the assistance of the DEEP the invasive reed, known as phragmites, have been removed in order to restore the natural ecosystem to this area. As wildlife return to the pond, it is being used for science programs with kids, as well as skating for the community. For more information on this ongoing project, visit the phragmite removal page.
Since its founding, the COMO remains committed to strengthening families and community. The mission of the COMO is “helping neighbors become friends and helping friends work together, the COMO engages residents, businesses, and community groups in building a strong, vibrant community.”
The name "COMO" comes from a nickname given to the community center by children and teenagers that frequented the building. The first reference to the nickname appears in a newspaper article from 1950 that highlights a baseball game between the Stonington COMO's and the Old Mystic Baseball Club.