On the Market / Hilltop estate inspired by European mountainside
NEW CANAAN — New Canaan is known for its dozens of midcentury modern houses designed by noteworthy architects, who dotted the town’s landscape with architectural masterpieces.
While not all of them have the pedigree of the Harvard Five or Frank Lloyd Wright — who designed a house in New Canaan — there are several worthy of consideration, including the modern stucco house perched at the top of a hill at 269 Dans Highway. Its dramatic facade, with a subtle nod to Mediterranean-style architecture, takes on an air of theatricality when illuminated from within against the night sky. In bright daylight its magnificence is revealed.
The nearly 8,000-square-foot house was designed by a Greek architect to fit its natural setting, and he used as inspiration his childhood European mountainside villa. When it was built in 1988, the house was given 10 rooms on four finished levels with about 100 windows from which to view the private oasis. It was also given many doors that lead to private terraced gardens, balconies and patios, encouraging indoor-outdoor living for which this house is ideal. “Watch deer as you enjoy morning coffee from the Italian tiled exterior balconies,” according to the co-listing agents — the son and mother team of John and Susan Engel.
This hilltop estate is nestled into four secluded acres that also features an intimate in-ground swimming pool. It also has a separate, detached two-story structure that houses the substantial home movie theater and studio apartment. The private yard features a vineyard, pergola, and built-in grill area. There is also a large, enclosed pen for animals.
This is a sophisticated house that was influenced in part by Wright, especially in the use of stone, wood and glass, and as the house relates to its setting. The use of hardwoods, marble, granite and stone in the architectural and functional elements make this a visually interesting house.
This is also a great house for entertaining, the Engels said in a brief video they made to introduce the house to prospective buyers. In it they are dressed to the nines. “I dressed like this because I think of it as a party house,” Susan Engel said.
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Those sentiments were shared by the owners, who have done a fair amount of entertaining there. They have entertained more than 100 guests at a time using a large, open field outside the main gate as a parking lot that accommodates more than 50 vehicles. The many decks, patios, and terraces were set up with tables to create sitting and dining areas, and service areas for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
At the top of the hill the very long, circular driveway leads to decorative wrought iron gates that open to the main house and the secondary structure with a bluestone courtyard between the two.
Throughout the 7,846 square feet of living space, there are spacious rooms with tall ceilings and oversized windows that frame the exterior views like natural works of art, while inside there is ample wall space for display of fine art. On the main level, the open floor plan has rooms flowing easily one to the other. The great room has the first of the home’s four fireplaces. The library features floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a marble fireplace, and reading nook. The lower level family room has a stone fireplace.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
ADDRESS: 269 Dans Highway
FEATURES: 4.01-acre level and sloping property, gated property, separate studio apartment, heated in-ground swimming pool, terraced gardens, deck, cork-paneled movie room with a 20-foot screen, wet bar, four fireplaces, porch, balconies, Cable TV Conn, thermal windows, rear stairs, detached two-car garage, six-zoned oil heat, private well, full finished walk-out basement, stone walls, four bedrooms, three full and one half baths
SCHOOLS: West Elementary, Saxe Middle, New Canaan High School
ASSESSMENT: $1,526, 980
MILL RATE: 16.96 mills
The formal dining room is banquet-sized. In the kitchen there are exposed beams on the ceiling, a butler’s pantry with a wine refrigerator and built-in wine bottle rack, and a breakfast room with built-in shelving for displays of culinary ware.
There are four bedrooms in this house; the master suite featuring a window seat.
In the detached structure, there is a circular staircase to the lower level, which features the cork-paneled movie room with a 20-foot screen. The upper level could be a guest suite or office with conference room.
This private setting gives its owners the feeling of remoteness while being only five minutes from the center of New Canaan and the Metro-North train station less than three miles away.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact John Engel and Susan Engel of Halstead Connecticut; John at 203-247-4700 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Susan at 203-247-5999 or sengel@Halstead.com.