On the Market / French country charm in Westport
Published 12:00 am, Wednesday, September 20, 2017
WESTPORT — The property at 299 North Ave. was once owned by James Earle Fraser, for whom Fraser Road and Fraser Lane are named. Both roadways are off North Avenue steps from this property in the Coleytown neighborhood.
Fraser was a sculptor and assistant to famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Fraser was commissioned to create sculptures for the Supreme Court and he designed the United States Victory Medal. Fraser was the recipient of the gold medal for sculpture from the National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Fraser designed the buffalo nickel and his sculpture depicting “an exhausted Indian hunched over his tired horse (titled End of the Trail), is one of the most recognized sculptures of the American West,” according to the Smithsonian Institution website.
A trail in the backyard of this two-acre property leads to a barn where Fraser worked. He did not live in the custom ranch-style house on this property. It was not built until 1970 and Fraser, who lived next door, died in 1954. Still, his artistry must have imbued this property with creative magic because the couple who built this house had an eye for detail and precision.
The European-inspired white stucco and timber house with teal-colored shutters is an exact replica of the original owner’s wife’s grandfather’s house in Normandy, France. One of the current owners of this house said the grandfather was a country doctor who saved the life of an American pilot, who was shot down during World War II. Years later, the pilot - by then an electrical engineer, returned to thank the doctor. On that visit he met and fell in love with the doctor’s granddaughter, a nurse. They married and he brought her to Westport, where they built this 5,239-square-foot home.
Fraser had a connection to France as well. The Smithsonian website says he studied in France, “where he was awarded one thousand dollars from the American Art Association of Paris.”
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A plaque is affixed to an exterior wall of the detached over-sized two-car garage over which there is a guest apartment. It names Nicole Polayes, the granddaughter, and identifies her as the “architecte,” using the French spelling. The initials N.D. appear after her name and one of the owners said they believe that means “not degreed.” The year 1970 is also engraved on the plaque, the year in which this house was built.
There are attractive, scenic views from every room, including views of a pond in the front yard. French doors in living room and in two bedrooms open to the private courtyard, patio, gardens and grounds. The courtyard, between the main house and the garage and guest quarters, comprises a wide crushed stone path and flower gardens outlined in Belgium block.
The current owners upgraded the house, which was featured on an HGTV program, and elevated its level of sophistication. They gave it a marble foyer with a tall vaulted ceiling and a formal dining room with a cathedral ceiling and a beige and Vermont Verde green marble floor. The formal living room is quite spacious and includes a marble floor, several built-in bookshelves, and a floor-to-ceiling double-sided fieldstone fireplace. The other side of this see-through fireplace is in the kitchen. In the kitchen the features include a terra cotta tile floor, slide-out pantry drawers, custom cabinetry, abundant counter space, an eat-in area, and a Dutch door to the courtyard.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Custom Ranch
ADDRESS: 299 North Avenue
FEATURES: guest house with a sixth bedroom and bath and kitchenette, two-acre level property, pond, water views, patio, underground sprinkler system, private courtyard, three fireplaces, easy one-level living, skylights, central vacuuming system, attic, cedar closet, full finished basement, detached over-sized two-car garage, well and septic systems on site, four bedrooms, three full baths
SCHOOLS: Coleytown Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High
MILL RATE: 16.86 mills
The master suite and one other bedroom are in a private wing on one side of the house and two more bedrooms are in another wing at the opposite end.
In the basement there is a great amount of space that can be used or multiple purposes. There is a full bath in this lower level, a large game or playroom with a red brick fireplace, and lots of storage. The walls are adorned in Tudor-like timber beams.
The large level lot allows plenty of space to expand the square footage of this house up or out.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Pat Shea of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 203-895-0280 or email@example.com.