Restored New Canaan Colonial on the market
Published 1:57 pm, Friday, April 30, 2010
Beyond the old stone wall and down a long, winding driveway is the courtyard entrance to an elegant 1939 Colonial home, sitting on more than 4.6 acres in a 2-acre zone in New Canaan. Within the forecourt is a grassy plot centered with a fountain and shrub beds surrounded by boxwood. Totally restored in recent years, the country estate has flowing formal and informal gardens and both swimming pool and tennis court.
Listed by Mary Ellen Spitzfaden and Kathleen Dakin of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in New Canaan for $4.875 million, the estate house was originally designed by architect Cameron Clark for Mrs. Delavan Baldwin. William Delavan Baldwin III was chairman of Otis Elevator Co., now owned by United Technologies, in the 1920s and died in 1938.
Charles Cameron Clark was a resident of Greenfield Hill and maintained offices in Southport and Manhattan. He is well known in the area for his residences and the redesign in 1939 of the Fairfield Town Hall. Named to the American Institute of Architects for outstanding achievement in design, Clark was the architect for homes in the tri-state area and Pennsylvania and civic and institutional buildings in Connecticut and New York.
A small prototype home by Clark, a two-story Colonial with five rooms and two baths, was exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair as an exemplar of "The New England Home," part of the "1939 Town of Tomorrow."
Clark married Agnes Selkirk, a graduate of the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture, Gardening and Horticulture for Women in Groton, Mass. She designed the original landscape of the New Canaan house.
Agnes had worked for famed landscape architect and teacher Ellen Biddle Shipman, "the dean of American women landscape architects." After marrying Clark, she opened her own office on Park Avenue in New York. The couple later moved to Fairfield.
A fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, she designed the grounds of estates from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Greens Farms.
Infrequent in today's residential architecture, the house was built in 1939 with a steel framework. The white clapboard facade with black shutters is crowned with dentil molding along the roof line, with swags underneath, and the motifs are carried around the house. Even the windows have decorative moldings above. The entry under a peaked roof is unusual with its double sets of front doors and a leaded-glass, semi-circular fanlight window with an uncommon paddle-shaped sunburst.
The large foyer has a double-height barrel ceiling, paneled walls and a sweeping, curved stairway to the second floor with decorative wood cutouts on each step. The living room fireplace is embellished with reeded pilasters, with a paneled frieze above and a molded architrave. Doors open to a solarium with a wet bar overlooking the grounds. A nearby, paneled library has two bays with barrel ceilings and a fireplace painted in faux marble.
The formal dining room, with a silver closet, is painted in a deep rose hue, with white trim, and doors open to the stone terrace, whose sitting walls are of brick.
The terrace was designed around a southern magnolia, and in the distance is the vegetable garden.
The kitchen, designed and installed by Kitchens by Deane, has deep green stone counters and backsplashes, an island and side-by-side SubZero refrigerator and freezer. A double sink set into a bay faces a terrace, with a low wall in brick, and the white lacquer cabinetry contrasts with the wood floor. A separate breakfast area, once a flower room, has a large bay window, and an oversized butler's pantry has a sink, another dishwasher and storage space.
The pantry was intended to have silver drawers, with trays, and bottoms lined in velvet, according to the architectural plans. Other drawers were to have cross strips to hang towels to dry.
An arched doorway leads to a family room, crafted of cherry, with a triple Palladian window. Another arched doorway opens to what had been the service entry and the mud room with built-ins. There's a bath here that was originally the purview of the chauffeur and staff, and a guest powder room boasts an antique pedestal sink and old brass fixtures.
A reeded archway at the top of the stairway leads to six bedrooms and five baths. The master bedroom has two curved bays surrounding the fireplace and his-and-her baths by Waterworks and Smallbone. His bath has a shower with a tile border in a gate-and-fence motif, and her bath is swathed in gray and white marble, with a floor with black diamond inserts. There's an oval platform tub, a steam shower with seat, a vanity enhanced with pilasters and a built-in dressing table.
Several bedrooms have bookshelf niches, and the original sewing room, now a laundry, retains "a good strong built-in ironing board," that folds into the wall, as specified in the plans.
The third floor has wide-board floors, a cedar closet and oval windows with globe-form tracery.
A second laundry is found in the basement that originally had a cold storage room and now has room for expansion.