On the Market / New Canaan property has links to King George II
NEW CANAAN — An extraordinary New Canaan landmark with a direct connection to a U.S. president and to “the Agatha Christie of America” dates back to the town’s earliest history.
According to information from the current homeowner, which was obtained from the New Canaan Historical Society, a 16-acre property on Canoe Hill Road “was a Land Grant to Col. James Lockwood for services rendered to the King of England in 1683.” Centuries later the property at 481 Canoe Hill Road has been whittled down to 5.45 acres and it contains a portion of the original house blended to perfection with another house that was constructed in 1920.
The original house was built around 1839 well back from the road, which was unusual for a house of this vintage. It was expanded in 1858 into a Victorian house. The remnants of that house serve as the rear part of the current house, which includes the family room, kitchen, pantry, laundry room, back porch, and children’s bedrooms on the second and third floors. The 1920 addition created the 8,662-square-foot Georgian colonial house that stands on this level property today.
One time owners Abby and Edgar Rickard are credited with transforming this house from a Victorian to Georgian colonial. “They built the lovely addition of graceful, spacious rooms,” said Ruth Laird, the current owner, adding that Edgar Rickard was a long-time friend and close confidant of President Herbert Hoover. “I’ve been told President Hoover stayed in this house when the Rickards’ daughter Margarite was married,” Laird said.
After Abby’s death in 1938 Edgar Rickard sold this property, house and three barns to Alanson and Mignon Eberhart, the latter of whom was the author of many mystery novels. “Many sites on this property appear in her novels such as the pump house and barn,” Laird said.
The barns that once stood on the property were part of the town’s 19th century agricultural history. Shortly after the current owners moved in back in 1979 the stable barn collapsed. They chose to remove a feed barn, and the third 1800s central barn was toppled by four giant pine trees five years ago, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. The current two-story barn is a replica of that English threshing barn and it was constructed by Todd Mendes Barn Restoration using the same “scribe rule,” peg and beam technique of the barn it replaced. The chestnut beams of the vintage barn were replaced with white oak beams and the interior roof of the new barn comprises milled planks from the pine trees that felled the original barn.
In addition to the barn, the current owners undertook a major expansion in 1994 adding the attached, over-sized two-car garage with an apartment above it, a breezeway, new side entrance, breakfast room, and a covered terrace at the back of the house accessed from the family room. “Our goal was to try and match the rear of the house to the front side using the same architectural details … We tried to preserve it the way we found it. We thought the charm was here,” Laird said. The addition was designed by Shope Reno Wharton Associates architectural firm in Norwalk and built by Hobbs, Inc. of New Canaan.
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During that project they also redesigned the laundry room to include the downstairs bath with a shower room, which can double as a dressing room or cabana for the property’s heated Gunite in-ground swimming pool.
The gracious front door is flanked by decorative sidelights and a fanlight transom of leaded glass that opens into the reception hall, which has a black marble fireplace - the first of the home’s nine fireplaces, and Brazilian cherry floor. Inside, the house features decorative moldings and archways, high ceilings, a sunken formal living room, very large butler’s pantry, and a flexible floor plan. The spacious sun room has a slate floor and 11 sets of French doors to the grounds.
The gourmet kitchen was completely remodeled in 2015 and it features a center island, Taj Mahal quartzite counters, and new high-end appliances including a Wolf six-burner range.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Updated Antique Georgian Colonial
ADDRESS: 481 Canoe Hill Road
FEATURES: new two-story barn with stables built by Hobbs, 5.45-acre level property, generator, underground utilities, heated Gunite in-ground swimming pool, lawn sprinkler, perennial gardens, wood deck, porch, nine fireplaces, front and rear staircases, terrace, semi-circular driveway, 400 amp electrical service, workshop, only two miles to town and train, storm windows, wood roof, over-sized attached two-car garage with office or au pair suite above, partial unfinished walk-out basement, two large attics, four heating zones, new hot water heater, updated mechanicals, tentatively approved 2-acre building lot, well water and septic system, eight bedrooms, seven full and one half baths
SCHOOLS: East Elementary, Saxe Middle, New Canaan High School
MILL RATE: 16.669 mills
This house has eight bedrooms. The master suite is on the second floor and it has a fireplace, two closets, a dressing room and large sitting room.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house, contact Mary Higgins of Halstead Property at 203-247-1625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.