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July/August 2009


REAL ESTATE

Deeds & Don'ts
By Lily Oliver

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS

The media would have you believe that no one has so much as darkened the doorstep of a for-sale property since last fall. In fact, though, most brokers say they have never worked harder, servicing uncertain buyers who feel compelled to see each and every home in their price categories, a daunting task when inventory levels are high. And then—because there's little risk of rivals swooping in—those buyers continue to look and re-look and inspect and re-inspect, testing the patience of said busy brokers who lament that none of this activity is actually money-making, until a deal actually inks.

We've noticed a few sexy new projects coming onto the market, most notably The Oneida on Greenwich Harbor, a six-home community with concierge services and yacht dockage provided by the nearby Delamar Hotel. Prices for the most expensive residences at The Oneida, which is named after a steam yacht that shuttled commuters between Greenwich and Wall Street a century ago, are a reported $8,750,000. Here, a roundup of the best new listings we've looked at this summer. See you in September!

WILLIAM STYRON ESTATE
ROXBURY
$2.2 MILLION

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Styron bought this house with Rose, his poetess wife, in 1954, after the publication of Lie Down in Darkness. They lived there part time until the writer's death in 2006. Rose Styron is now selling (and also renting out) the home where the couple once hosted arts-and-letters luminaries who also purchased in the area: Arthur Miller, Walter Matthau, Mia Farrow, André Previn, Alexander Calder, Philip Roth, James Baldwin and Frank McCourt, among them. Indeed, for a tiny town—population 2,136—modest Roxbury has more than its share of celebrity and talent: actors Denis Leary and Michael Lombardi, both of the current program Rescue Me, have homes there; so does Daniel Day Lewis, who is married to Rebecca Miller, playwright Arthur's daughter.

The Styrons' main house offers five bedrooms and six baths, several offices, a great room and formal living and dining rooms. The 4.67 acres that sit on both sides of a lovely country road also offer a guest house, pool, tennis court and pond with waterfall. Stacy Matthews of the Matthews Group, affiliated with William Raveis Real Estate, in Washington Depot has the $2.2 million listing, (860) 868-9066.

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ADIRONDACK-STYLE RETREAT
WESTON
$1,675,000

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There's a lot to love about this circa-1870s Weston property, but we were drawn first to the fact that it was featured in the original version of The Stepford Wives that poison-pen love letter to '70s-era suburbia. Stepford Wives writer Ira Levin actually lived one town over from Weston in Wilton, and that first movie, developed from his novel, was shot all over Westport, Darien and Norwalk (as for the recent remake of the movie, also shot in the area—we're not fans). More media moments for this 3,340-square-foot home: It has been featured in Ralph Lauren ads, a fitting backdrop with its immaculately rustic kind of charm.

That's a lot of glamour for a dwelling that started life as a two-room cabin. Renovations over the years transformed the humble property into this expansive Adirondack-style retreat, now set on three acres that feature a pond, gardens and a guest cabin. The current owners are antiques dealers and have polished to perfection the wide-planked floors, beamed ceilings, stone hearths (there are four fireplaces in all) and handcrafted cabinetry. The interiors also offer four bedrooms and three bathrooms (plus one half bathroom). The property is listed with Fran Burger of William Raveis Real Estate in Westport, (203) 209-6152.

CONNECTICUT WELCOMES YOU!
The Halstead Group, a long-time power brokerage firm in New York City and the Hamptons, is expanding to our fair state of Connecticut, and in the process gaining some 215 new agents. Both Country Living Associates and Wheeler Real Estate are joining the firm, bringing the total number of metro-area Halstead agents to more than 900. Country Living will now be known as Halstead Property Country Living, while Wheeler takes on the name Halstead Property Wheeler. This is not Halstead's first move to the suburbs: The group has offices in New Jersey, as well. Fresh on the block is this Proven├žal-style house in Rowayton, koi pond included. The property is listed for $2,175,000 with Pam Stutz of Halstead Property Country Living, (203) 966-7800, ext. 492.

MCKIM, MEAD & WHITE ESTATE
DARIEN
$5,995,000

We featured this circa-1908 estate a couple of years ago when it was decorated in a rather riotous way (lots of turquoise, oversized tartan, equestrian-motif prints). It sold anyway—those were the days!—and is back on the market again now that its current owners are relocating. We're happy to say that the interiors have gone from garish to gorgeous—and look to be a much better fit with how the home was designed, by the prestigious architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, whose commissions range from the old Pennsylvania Station and Bellevue Hospital to grand estates for wealthy industrialists.

Now, this 8,000-square-foot Georgian-style home has us at hello: It greets guests with a gracious reception hall (25-by-30 feet) featuring a grand staircase leading up from the vestibule, an intricately hand-stenciled floor and classically themed moldings. The formal living room, with 10-foot beamed ceilings and an elegant fireplace, flows into a family room with a 10-foot-wide stone hearth, wet bar with copper sink and Sub-Zero wine refrigerator, four window seats and a powder room with nickel Waterworks fixtures and a tumbled-marble floor. Easily our favorite room in the house is the conservatory, though, with its antique-marble potting sink, antique limestone floor and glass cathedral ceiling. But should the six-million-buck purchase price magically appear in our bank account, we could also see spending a lot of time at the pool and on the pool terrace, which features an outdoor kitchen, grill and refrigerator. In all, the home offers seven bedrooms and six bathrooms (plus three half bathrooms), with an additional two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen in the carriage house. Rachel Walsh of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in Darien has the listing, (203) 912-5908.

Another note: Should you want to make a day of visiting McKim, Mead & White properties, tour this Darien estate first, then head up to Great Barrington, just over the state line in Massachusetts, to have a look at Searle Castle, whose price has been reduced from $15 million to $12.5 million. Stanford White is said to have designed this 40,000-square-foot masterpiece as a home for railroad heiress Mary Hopkins. The scale of the place boggles the mind, with its 40 rooms, seven towers, 36 fireplaces and various architectural novelties, including a reflecting pool designed in the shape of a cross. Stacy Matthews of the Matthews Group, affiliated with William Raveis Real Estate, in Washington Depot has the listing, (860) 868-9066.

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WATERFRONT ESTATE
STONINGTON BOROUGH
$7.8 MILLION

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This circa-1886 estate was built as a home for the richest people in town—the family that owned the massive machine-parts factory, located right on the waterfront. Today, while their factory site has been transformed into luxury condos, the home is still one of the borough's grandest. Stonington has pleasantly dense neighborhoods lined with pretty antiques on pocket-sized lots. So this property is unusual in that it sits on 1.21 private acres, which back up onto the Narragansett Bay and feature gardens, terraces, two gazebos and a private dock. The rooms in the restored interiors are configured to take advantage of the water views, especially the master bedroom, with its private deck—a suite that also include his-and-hers bathrooms, a dressing room, a fireplace, laundry facilities and an office. In all there are four bedrooms, which all have en suite bathrooms and fireplaces. It's offered by Chris McLaughlin, (860) 460-0767 or chm@terrafirmaus.com

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ISLAND-STYLE HOME
FAIRFIELD
$2,295,000

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This Pine Creek Avenue listing is billed as an island-style and it's clear right from the curb why: The circa-2000, five-bedroom and six-bathroom home, sited directly on the water, is painted a Caribbean blue with yellow trim. The home's real appeal is apparent from the back, though, starting with a state-of-the-art dock, constructed from epe, a South American hardwood. The owners spared no expense—with bills running to at least $80,000—to build the dock, which accommodates a 40- to 50-foot boat and comes with a motorized winch for lowering a dinghy into the water, at low tide, say. And, oh yes, that two-year old Holby Marine Pilot 19 with fewer than 100 hours on its motor that's pulled up to the dock? It comes with the purchase price of the home. Rob Grodman of Coldwell Banker in Westport has the listing, (203) 952-6117.

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