A framed photograph hangs on the wall of the landmark antique Colonial house at 50 Cross Highway, which provides a glimpse into the home's interesting history.
The sepia-toned photo taken in 1900 is of Miss Catherine McCann with the students from her class in what was once Cross Highway School. The original schoolhouse was enlarged with a couple of additions and throughout the years has been updated to create a charming space of 2,322 square feet that is rich in historical detail while being suitable for living in the 21st century.
According to Westport land records, "District schools were used in Westport until after the first world war ... There was a district school on this location on Cross Highway as early as 1856." In the summer of 1988 the house was included in the Westport Historic District Commission's Townwide Historic Resources Survey, which was completed by architectural historian Mary McCahon.
The original portion of the structure actually dates back to 1740 and a Colonial Revival addition was constructed in 1934. There are nods to the past in the many nooks and crannies throughout the house, and the rear staircase feels like a secret passageway with its narrow spiral turn. Yet, modern detailing exists as well. The ceilings are high, the kitchen is updated and the great room encompasses a large living and entertaining space.
Back when it was a schoolhouse, the front entrance was accessed from a covered front porch and through a wide door, both of which still exist. The owner of the house said she can almost picture the school marm standing at that door to greet children as they arrived.
The current entrance is farther to the front of the structure, closer to the street. It opens into a large foyer that features random-width hardwood floors. Hidden behind the Wainscoting are a half-bath on one wall and a coat closet on the other.
The formal living room is thought to be the school's classroom. It has built-in bookshelves and a wide fireplace with a surround of hand-painted ceramic tiles in a plum-colored stylized floral design and a parson's cabinet above the mantle. A pass-through goes into the butler's pantry, which has wood counters and glass-front cabinets.
The great room, a later addition to the original structure, includes a spacious family room and formal dining area with a fireplace and multiple windows that open to the private grounds. This fireplace also has hand-painted tiles, these in blue and reminiscent of European country churches. French doors access the screened porch, which has a stone floor and door to the backyard.
Access to the newer kitchen is through the butler's pantry, which also leads to a breezeway with a patterned red brick path to the attached two-car garage. It looks much like a barn with its vertical siding and cupola.
Kitchen features include granite counters, a farm sink and eat-in area with a wood paneled wall, built-in desk area and a long, built-in seat with storage beneath it. Appliances include a modern Aga range that has a vintage appearance. It features a glass top, two ovens and a warming drawer. The range sits against a wall of red brick.
On the second floor there is a good-size landing with built-in bookshelves that can serve as a child's play area. A previous owner said of the small but functional bedrooms they are like "living in a doll house."
One bedroom has a closet with a built-in toy chest. It also has an opening to a second bedroom, which was probably a nursery.
No space is wasted in this house. There are numerous storage closets and cubbies throughout, "remarkable for an older home," the current owner said. Even the master bedroom has a walk-in closet, which is really large enough to be a sitting or dressing room. Many of the storage areas are hidden behind the paneling and millwork.
The new master bathroom has a honed marble floor, white subway tile backsplash and a walk-in shower.
For more information or to make an appointment to see this house, contact Patricia Marsh of Prudential Connecticut Realty at 203-218-1181 or email her at email@example.com. Additional information about this property is available at www.50cross.prudentialct.com
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
TYPE: Antique Colonial
ADDRESS: 50 Cross Highway
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 8
AMENITIES: beach rights, historic house, proximity to the Merritt Parkway, convenient to downtown Westport, corner lot, porch, butler's pantry, fenced property, half acre level property, storm windows and doors, front and rear staircases, security system, two fireplaces, patio, breezeway, zoned central air conditioning, fieldstone walls, high ceilings, ample storage, circular driveway, original hardware throughout
OTHER INFORMATION: four bedrooms, two full and one half baths, two-car attached garage, partial unfinished basement, zoned gas heat, hardwood floors, walk-up attic, laundry room, stone foundation, shed, septic system, public water
SCHOOLS: Long Lots Elementary, Bedford Middle, Staples High
TAX RATE: 18.07 mills