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August 2007


FEATURES

Time and Again
by Diane di Costanzo
Photographs by Anastassios Mentis

HOW A CLASSIC COASTAL FARMHOUSE WAS (GENTLY) REINVENTED FOR A 21ST-CENTURY FAMILY

[Image]

A Westport waterfront home that changed hands has all the charm of a fable—and the leisurely pace of an old-fashioned courtship. It starts, once upon a time, with the lovely, elderly couple who owned it for decades, tending its gardens and keeping to themselves.

Enter the young family who lived across the road in a house they were fast outgrowing. The mother, Libby, and her children would pass "the house with pink shutters," as they called it, on their walk to the beach, throwing looks of longing its way. The circa-1820, white clapboard farmhouse had Federal styling, open water views and lawns that rolled down toward the Long Island Sound. It was picture-perfect. Meanwhile, the prospect of renovating their own home held a lot less appeal: the costly process did not look as though it would result in the house of their dreams, Libby told her husband. "He asked me, 'What is the house of your dreams?'" she recalls. "I said to him, 'The house with pink shutters.'"

So, the young couple wrote a nice letter expressing their desire to buy the house—this is without ever having stepped inside of it, mind you—should it ever come to market. Months passed before the owner responded, in a letter of his own, that he would like to discuss their offer—provided they promise not to tear the house down. The relationship unfolded for over a year as the homeowner, "a perfect gentleman," worked out the details of where he would go and made a few more stipulations. (A dogwood tree on the property was also promised eternal life.)

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