Thomas Oyster House

Mystic, Connecticut | C.1874

Photo Credit: Deb Cohen

Even though the original Thomas Oyster House still stands in Mystic, Connecticut, it opened 55 miles West in New Haven, the former oyster distribution center of New England. Though no longer in operation, it is one of the few remaining buildings that can be classified as a typical northern oyster house.

Constructed around 1874, the oyster house was built in the City Point section of New Haven by one of the state’s first oyster farmers, Thomas Thomas (you read that right). Initially used as a culling shop, oysters were sorted by size and shipped in their shells by the barrel to markets in New York City and as far as California.

After Mr. Thomas’ death in 1918, his son John took over the family oyster business and converted the building into a shucking house. There, the oysters were opened upon delivery by the oyster boats and then packed in iced wooden kegs to be ready for delivery to various markets. The shucking house remained in operation for 38 years.

Today, there is only one oyster-opening shop still in operation in Connecticut: Bloom Brothers in South Norwalk. The historic Thomas Oyster House resides at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America, where it was donated in 1970 and transported by barge to its current location in 1984. Since then, it has been rebuilt and restored to its original condition.

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