INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS
The summer saw something of a celebrity sell-off as property after property attached to bold-faced names sprouted new for-sale signs. This was especially true in Northwest Connecticut, starting with the $6.5 million listing of the New Milford estate owned by Joan Rivers (who has also listed her Upper East Side duplex penthouse for $25 million, we hear). Rivers told the New York Times that she was looking to spend more time on the West Coast with her daughter, Melissa, and her grandson, while squashing rumors that she was forced to sell due to money lost with Bernard Madoff. Whatever the reason for her East Coast exodus, Rivers' Litchfield County property is well suited for a buyer seeking privacy: The estate sits on 76 elevated acres with breathtaking views, a pond, a pool and pool house and several outbuildings including a stone caretaker's cottage and a barn with a studio.
Never one to mince words, the comedienne described the home she purchased in 2000 as "the ugliest house I'd ever seen. It looked like a Denny's." Rivers had the squat modern structure transformed into the more traditional stone-and-clapboard country manse that was featured in Architectural Digest. It offers four bedrooms, four bathrooms (plus one half bathroom) and loads of antique fixtures and furnishings, including century-old weathered beams, stone hearths and salvaged-wood floors. It's listed with Carolyn Klemm—something of a celebrity in her own right—of Klemm Real Estate in Washington Depot, (860) 868-7313.
Klemm is also the lucky listing broker for musician Daryl Hall's $16 million upstate-New York home, a museum-quality Revolutionary-War Colonial on 245 acres. And she's representing the $9.3 million, circa-1900 Roxbury estate owned by TV honcho Doug Cramer, who partnered with Aaron Spelling to produce such series as "Dynasty" and "The Love Boat." On 130 acres, the property features a pond with a waterfall, a pool, a guesthouse and a party barn. There is also an art barn for Cramer's collections (he was a founder of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art) and, of course, a lovely main house, which offers four bedrooms, a wine cellar and a gym.
And in nearby Salisbury, a fantastic French-country- style home has popped on the market, listed for $1,195,000 with Andrew Gates of Sotheby's International Realty in the Salisbury-Lakeville office, (860) 435-5924. Built in 1975 as part of the set for a film called Summerdog, the nearly 12-acre spread includes a pool and pool house, a tennis court and a stone labyrinth garden, as well as the spacious 2,300-square-foot main house.
Although not as star-studded, several other listings elsewhere in Connecticut caught our eye. Here, a few of our early-fall favorites.
Wow! This property is a true compound, built on a three-plus acre property that wraps around a sheltered cove along Long Island Sound. There are two modern residences—both with modern and airy spaces and multiple decks—connected by an art gallery. There are also indoor and outdoor pools, a 40-foot-long deepwater dock and a six-car garage. Rick Higgins of the Higgins Group in Fairfield has the listing, (203) 259-9920, ext. 308.
A HOME INSPIRED BY
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
The architect John Howe was called "the pencil in Frank Lloyd Wright's hand" for the three decades he spent at Taliesin—beginning in 1932 upon graduation from high school and until 1964 when he moved to San Francisco to join the Wright Foundation's West Coast offices. So it's no exaggeration to say that the 30 or so structures Howe designed are more than merely Wright-like in their aesthetic and appeal. And this New Canaan home proves Howe's genius, built late in his career in 1981 and sited to be in sync with its nearly seven-acre landscape. Called the Hemicycle House, the structure is configured along the lines of Wright's same-named dwellings—gracious half-circles that take in loads of light and are hard to describe but incredibly pleasing. In Howe's hands, the hemicycle is most evident in the cool (and thoroughly updated) kitchen, with its curved wall of windows. Wright's influence is also seen in the rough-finished stone walls throughout the interiors, the Prairie-style fixtures and a ceiling made of colored glass. A thoughtful and seamless addition to the home expanded it to 7,200 square feet, now including six bedrooms, six bathrooms and—good news for guitar heroes everywhere—a recording studio. It's listed with Rita Kirby of Sotheby's International Realty in New Canaan, (203) 966-2633.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?
If so, then what could be more perfect than making yourself at home in this Westport property, sited on acreage that was once owned by fancy-footer Fred Astaire? Called River House, the two-acre property has its own deepwater dock and a pretty pool and pool terrace. The nearly 6,000-square-foot interior of the five-bedroom home are beautifully finished with cherry floors, exposed beams, stone fireplaces and loads of custom cabinetry in the library and kitchen. Also included are a luxury master suite with his-and-hers Waterworks baths, nine-foot ceilings, ample entertaining space and soaring waterfront views. Rick Higgins of the Higgins Group in Fairfield has the $7,450,000 listing, (203) 254-9000, ext. 308.
BELLE HAVEN ESTATE
Designed by architect McKee Patterson of Austin Patterson Disston, this six-bedroom Shingle-style home sits in the posh coastal enclave of Belle Haven, in Greenwich, within walking distance of the waterfront. The three-level, 8,350-square-foot manse is beautifully crafted, with its large fieldstone fireplace on the main floor, custom limestone fireplace mantels throughout and one thoroughly intoxicating extra: a 1,500-bottle wine cellar. It's listed with Christopher Finlay of Halstead Property Country Living, (203) 856-9037.
The exterior of this circa-1765 property looks every inch the Revolutionary-War era Colonial with its gracious, barn-red façade, pristine lawns and formal gardens. But over the years clever additions have expanded the home to 6,639 square feet, which now include eight bedrooms, four full bathrooms (plus one half bathroom) and a Kitchens by Deane kitchen with top-of-the-line everything: a Sub-Zero refrigerator, restaurant-quality stove, a generous, granite-topped island and a huge hearth. Happily, the antique fixtures and finishes were restored so the rooms glow with the warmth of old wood and stone: there are exposed beams, handcrafted cabinetry and paneling, wide-plank wood floors and a total of 12 fireplaces. Hard to choose, but our favorite is the family room with its vaulted ceilings, brick hearth and French doors leading to a terrace and gardens.
There are more old-and-new amenities on the 5.47-acre property: a pretty pool with a landscaped terrace; a rose garden, an enclosed herb garden and an antique barn. Joanne Thomas with William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in Darien has the listing, (203) 655-8234.
Byram Shore Road extends along the length of a beautiful, private peninsula in the Sound waters between Connecticut and New York State. As such, Byram homes are less than 30 miles (and 40 Metro North minutes) to Grand Central station. Hard to believe when standing on the manicured lawns of this Mediterranean-style home with its new private dock onto the Byram River and short walk to a sandy beach, accessible to association members only. On nearly one acre, the 7,000-square-foot home also has a huge (12-by-30-foot) indoor pool, five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, including a lovely master suite with a sitting room and loft. Edward Mortimer of Sotheby's International Realty in Greenwich has the listing, (203) 869-4343.