Inside stories behind Connecticut real estate deals

We've got the 411 on a spacious renovated Colonial in Wilton with a brand new "party barn" to a secluded island summer cottage right off of the coast of Branford!



Stargazing took on new meaning this summer with multiple celebrities spotted shopping for homes in our state. We reported on Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds house hunting in New Canaan early in the season, only to settle down in Bedford, NY. As summer waned, the recently divorced Tom Cruise was also sighted, visiting a Greenwich estate Mel Gibson once owned, according to the New York Daily News (see details on the $32,995,000 listing below). It goes without saying that design-industry celebrities thrill us too (maybe more so!), and in keeping with the theme of this issue, we bring you for-sale homes that showcase the work of star architects, high-end builders and top landscape designers.

Old Mill Farm

If this Tudor-style home looks vaguely familiar, that’s because it was listed for years—and featured in this column—when Mel Gibson was the seller. Gibson finally found a buyer who paid a reported $24 million for it in 2010. Back on the market, the 75-acre spread offers tons of fun for the celeb we hear toured it (that would be Tom Cruise) with its pool, stable, tennis court, log cabin, sculpted maze and terrace featuring a life-size chess board, as well as gorgeous gardens designed by landscape architect James Doyle who is a star in his own right: He has won Innovation in Design Awards from this magazine and the title of the 2010 International Landscape Designer of the Year from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Inside the circa-1926 Charles Lewis Bowman–designed estate are nearly 16,000 square feet of restored interiors, which include 15 bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms and seven half bathrooms. Joseph Barbieri of Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich has the listing. 203-940-2025.

Blendon Hall
$3.9 million

This gracious Italianate estate was built in 1902 by society architect Charles Platt, who designed homes for the likes of the Astors, Rockefellers and Roosevelts, as well as public buildings for the Smithsonian, Connecticut College and Andover. Along the Connecticut River’s Seldon Cove, this 16-acre estate gets our vote for the prettiest grounds on these pages. There’s a cool boxwood maze, a meditation garden in a bamboo grove, an orchard, a rose garden and stone terraces with steps leading to hidden gardens and fountains. And just for fun, there’s a tennis court, boat house, pool and guest house. The 6,784-square-foot interiors are impressive as well, with four bedrooms, seven bathrooms and seven fireplaces. It’s listed with Lucretia Bingham and Joe Rhodes of Coldwell Banker in Old Lyme. 860-961-7234 and 860-227-0921.

Belden Island

For this sweet summer cottage, we’re giving design credit to Mother Nature herself. The circa-1912 cottage sits on private one-acre Belden Island, part of the Thimble Islands off the coast of Branford, just north of New Haven. Its exteriors top those of even the most talented landscape designers—mere humans simply can’t manufacture the stone terraces, which are actually the rock outcroppings of the island itself, and the sunrise-and-sunset 360-degree water views. Manmade pleasures include a putting green that comprises the entire front yard, wraparound porches and a boat dock. The 2,000-square-foot interiors offer original wainscoting, pretty paneling and two fireplaces, as well as four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Margaret Muir of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Madison has the listing. 203-245-6700.

photograph by granite studios (westport)

Old Hill Estate

Here’s a brand-new 7,100-square-foot home designed by Westport-based architect Robert Storm. Its location is fabulous, on a half-acre in Old Hill, one of Westport’s classic neighborhoods that features both gracious antique manses and an easy 10-minute-or-less drive to town and the train station. This is a great family home with six bedrooms and six bathrooms, including a master suite with a luxe, marble-clad bathroom, expansive walk-in closets and a private balcony. On the lovely grounds: a pool and spa set in a stone terrace and pretty, manicured lawns that slope down to Nash’s Pond. Sue Lieberman of the Riverside Realty Group in Westport has the listing. 203-858-9411.

A spacious
renovated Colonial in Wilton
comes with a brand-new “party barn”


Wilton Colonial

This classic Connecticut Colonial is brought to you by two local design-build firms: Kellogg Brothers built the house; Country Carpenters, the rockin’ party barn. The nearly 4,200-square-foot home also features a gracious kitchen renovation and expansive master suite with vaulted ceilings designed by architect Matthew Schoenherr. In all there are five bedrooms and three bathrooms (plus one half bathroom). On the two-acre lot: extensive gardens, a lovely stone terrace, stone walls and manicured lawns. Katie Nugent of Marion Filley Team Advantage, Prudential Connecticut Realty in Wilton has the listing. 917-374-1581.