Way Back When ... 1902
Published 12:00 am, Friday, July 1, 2016
NEW CANAAN — This week in 1902, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers was born in New York City. But it wasn’t until Rodgers achieved fame and fortune that he and his wife, Dorothy, bought their Connecticut estate in the Southport section of Fairfield.
The couple’s Rockmeadow home at 1040 Hulls Farm Road became a magnet for Broadway A-listers and celebrities from 1949-65.
Rodgers also wrote the music for several Broadway shows there, including "The King and I” and "The Sound of Music." Marilyn Monroe and other luminaries, meanwhile, enjoyed the estate’s in-ground pool.
Many of the Broadway luminaries at that time visited the house, including the entire cast of "South Pacific" when the performers attended a surprise party for the composer in 1951.
Rodgers wrote fondly about the property’s appeal in his autobiography, "Musical Stages:"
"Given the impermanence of life, it is only natural that people cling to the security of certain objects and places that seem impervious to time. Perhaps this is especially strong in me because of the intangibility of my work and the entertainment world of which I am a part.
"Ever since 1949, our place in Southport, Connecticut, had become more of a home to Dorothy and me than our city apartment. Rockmeadow was our refuge and retreat, where we enjoyed entertaining friends and where, just in walking through the grounds, I often thought of melodic themes of ideas for musical development."