On the market: Like cut from the pages of The Great Gatsby
Updated 2:42 pm, Tuesday, January 10, 2017
DARIEN — The level of decadent partying in the era of the Roaring 20s was not confined to the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. It occurred on Darien’s Goodwives River Road on a property called Glenbreekin Farm owned by Cyril Crimmins.
The house where Crimmins entertained many guests sat along a lake that no longer exists except in photographs and a black and white postcard postmarked Oct. 28, 1907 that is on sale online for $4. Outside he had entertainment barges and a replica of a paddle-operated river boat on what is now the Goodwives River which flows into Gorhams Pond. Across the river at 38 Goodwives River Road sits the Enos Tuttle House that Crimmins purchased as a place to house some of his over-flow party-goers. Crimmins added four tall columns and other decorative elements to the front façade of the simple antique post and beam farmhouse so it would resemble his Glenbreekin Farm.
“If you look at the house without all the embellishments on the front it’s a typical 19th century local farmhouse,” said Ken Reiss, historian for the Darien Historical Society. Reiss said this farmhouse is much like the Rowayton Pinkney Park House, which was built in 1820. The Enos Tuttle House, now known as the Tweedy House, was built about 1860. This is a one-of-a kind property steeped in Darien history and retains much of the architectural integrity of the period.
According to Reiss, the house has “good bones” and is significant because it is largely untouched inside and it’s rare to find that. The woodwork, banister going up from the foyer to the second floor, and most of its doors are 100-percent intact, he said. It still has its original center chimney, wide-plank wood floors, windows and wide fireplace with beehive oven that was probably used for cooking in the original kitchen when the house was first built. That room is now flexible space and could be a family room.
That’s the beauty of a house like this. While not everyone appreciates living in a vintage home that could use some updating, this parcel has the room for an addition and the house has the ability to be adapted and customized according to the next owner’s needs and lifestyle. At the moment is has 2,080 square feet of living space but can be enlarged, even though there are some restrictions placed on this house because of its ownership. The late Bonnie Tweedy left the house to the Darien Historical Society and the sale of the house will support the Society and its programs. Among the restrictions the principle dwelling cannot be demolished and its exterior must remain white with green shutters.
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Any minor inconvenience created by the restrictions will be worth it for anyone who loves history, preservation of historic houses, and living in a home that has character.
The original parlor, now the living room, has a fireplace, one of three in the house. A newer addition contains a room with new pine wood floors made to look vintage and one wall has a hand-painted mural of the city of Florence, Italy. In the family room there is a Dutch door to the yard. Off the foyer by the front door there is another Dutch door to a screened porch.
On the second floor there are three bedrooms and a good-size sleeping porch with walls of windows and built-in bookshelves on the lower portion of the walls. A fourth bedroom is found on the finished third floor.
The house is set back from the road and is beautifully sited on the level and gently rolling parcel that is almost the size of a double lot. A previous owner made sure the property was just under two acres so that it can never be subdivided because this neighborhood requires at least one acre per parcel. The property is as valuable as the house for its attractiveness, privacy, river views and 15 feet of river frontage, and its other amenities. It has a “pedigreed” guest cottage, outdoor fireplace, and a koi pond with a pump to recirculate the water.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
The guest cottage, or folly, behind the house was built in the early 20th century by Lurelle Guild, a prolific and influential industrial product designer. “He almost single-handedly took Alcoa into the housewares business,” Reiss said. According to the Industrial Designers Society of America website, he is credited with thousands of product designs and “In 1937 Guild designed the Model 30 tank-type vacuum cleaner for Electrolux in dramatic Art Deco style.” The cottage has a living room, bedroom, bath, and screened porch, and it would be ideal as a home office.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Nancy Dauk of Halstead Property at 203-858-1146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.