Bits of History

From the 5,174 square-foot “cottage” of Katharine Hepburn to a circa-1921 castle, these New England real estate listings have much to offer.

The style of home most closely associated with our state is the Colonial, with its plain façade, upright stature, and, inside, center-hall layout. But because Connecticut tends toward the traditional, there are a dozen more classic home styles for buyers to choose from, starting with the humble Cape, cottage and farmhouse. Once reserved for fancier folk, there are also Georgians, Victorians, shingle-style homes and, for would-be lords and ladies, straight-up castles. In keeping with the theme of this issue, we’re offering up listings that represent a variety of these traditional styles, both antique and newer constructions, from a Fenwick “cottage” to a Cornwall castle.

Fenwick “Cottage”

We’re putting “cottage” in quotation marks, just as the “cottage” owners of yore used to do, signifying that their property—usually a second, seaside home—was built along the grandest scale imaginable. That certainly describes this circa-1925 estate in the exclusive Fenwick enclave of Old Saybrook, which was the late, great Kate Hepburn’s neighborhood. Golfing enthusiasts will love the fact that it overlooks the famed, links-style South Cove course. But there’s also 130 feet of private waterfront with a 100-foot-long dock, a 22-foot-high seawall, and outdoor and indoor pools. The 5,174-square-foot home has been entirely renovated and now offers a gorgeous kitchen with a Vermont limestone floor, a six-burner Viking stove and Wolf ovens, among other amenities. An elevator serves all four levels, with our favorite stop opening onto the master suite, with coffered ceilings, a gas fireplace and a private sundeck and expansive views over the water. Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Essex has the listing. 860-304-2391.

New England is famous for its modestly efficient Capes. A home style born on Cape Cod and designed to withstand the challenging weather of the Massachusetts coastline, the iconic Cape has a steep roof (to slough off snow), low ceilings (to conserve heat) and wainscoting (to protect the walls against moisture). Today, the Cape still appeals, as much for its practicality as its pleasing profile. Pictured here is our favorite listed Cape, sited on 23 Old Lyme acres. On the grounds are an antique barn, a two-bedroom guest house, a copper-clad conservatory and formal English boxwood gardens. Jeanne Rutigliano of Coldwell Banker in Old Lyme lists the home for $2,395,000. 860-434-8600.


Greenwich Georgian

This circa-2006 manor home offers a modern take on Georgian styling, with a handsome stone façade, gracious pillared balconies and luxe guesthouse, sited alongside the pool and pool cabana. If all that sounds too fancy for a family, consider that the 12,500-square-foot home also offers an indoor multi-sport court, an 18-seat movie theater, a billiards room and three separate family rooms. Outdoors find a turf field, suitable for lacrosse, a hot tub, fire pit, pizza oven and cascading waterfall. More grownup pleasures include the 5,000-bottle wine room and Christopher Peacock kitchen. Robin Kencel of Houlihan Lawrence in Greenwich has the listing. 203-249-2943.

Cornwall Castle

This circa-1921 castle is fit for a king. But it was built for a society grande dame by the name of Charlotte Bronson Hunnewell Martin, who is also credited for having masterminded (and funded) the construction of Manhattan’s tony Turtle Bay enclave, comprise 19 brownstones where E.B. White penned Charlotte’s Web and Audrey Hepburn lived for some six decades. Mrs. Martin and her surgeon husband—who is said to have ridden around the 275-acre grounds on a white horse, wearing a white cape—commissioned architect Edward C. Dean to build this fairytale-like castle from local stone, with architectural details including a 16th-century, painted-and-beamed ceiling from the Netherlands and ornate columns from France and Italy. Called Hidden Valley, the property also offers a stone gatehouse with two apartments, a guesthouse that’s adjacent to the pool and spa, a three-stall horse barn, garaging for 18 cars, a helipad and a mile-long private drive. It’s listed with Ira Goldspiel of Sotheby’s International Realty in Kent. 860-927-7724.

Westport Colonial

From the street, this circa-1926, white-shingled Colonial looks every inch the classic Connecticut home with its simple lines and unadorned façade. But there’s so much more to this awesome abode, whose renovated, 6,255-square-foot interiors are nothing short of crushworthy. Especially swoon-inducing is the open-plan kitchen that opens onto an outdoor stone courtyard with a waterfall. And among the ensuite bedrooms is a cool master suite with a fireplace, luxe bath and soaring ceilings. Plus, the one-acre exteriors won an American Society of Landscape Architects award for the best private garden in the country boasting a pool, outdoor fireplace and pergola-covered dining terrace. Brett Lieberman of the Riverside Realty Group has the listing. 203-216-2515.

Lakeville Shingle-Style Manse

The lake that gives Lakeville its name offers the pristine privacy of a socked-away Vermont locale—sparsely developed, there is the Hotchkiss campus on one side and the town beach on another, with views of the water and the Litchfield Hills in between. This circa-1929 shingle-style manse was thoroughly renovated in 2000 and now offers 7,200 square feet of gracious interiors—including window walls, terraces and balconies, all designed to take in views of the lake below. Roger Saucy of Klemm Real Estate in Washington Depot has the listing. 203-788-7032.

Greenwich Victorian

This waterfront Victorian has pitch-perfect period styling from its wraparound porch to the cove shingles gracing its many-gabled roof. But the 3,679-square-foot interiors offer such modern amenities as a gorgeous new kitchen and a master suite with a fireplace, soaking tub and steam shower. In all, there are five bedrooms and four bathrooms (plus one half bathroom), as well as a studio apartment with a separate entrance. The back of the home overlooks Smith Cove and a private beach; from the front door, it’s a short walk to Greenwich Avenue. Carol Clarke of Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich has the listing. 203-618-3174.