WESTPORT — The story of the Charles Chapman House, an antique colonial farmhouse at 39 Cross Highway, is woven into the fabric of the story of Westport and this nation.

In the early history of the town, the Chapmans were a prominent family of farmers, many of whom took up arms against the British in the Revolutionary War.

The earliest section of the house, which features wide-planked floorboards with hand-wrought floor nails, dates back to the mid-18th century. It was built by Phineas Chapman, son of the Rev. Daniel Chapman, the first pastor of the Greens Farms Congregational Church, according to the book “The Chapman Family: Or The Descendants of Robert Chapman,” published in 1854.

Phineas Chapman, who distinguished himself during the French and Indian War, was a captain in the Revolutionary War, “and was taken prisoner at his own house, while loading up his effects in his ox-cart to flee with his family from the enemy,” the book says. Phineas survived the incarceration in a New York sugar house but his health was irreparably impaired by the experience and he died five years later in 1782.

The current owner of this historic house, which may at one time have also served as an inn, has extensively researched the Chapmans and this structure.

“I feel as though I know the Chapmans whose lives unfolded in the house for four generations,” said owner, Deborah Howland-Murray. At the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road there stands a large boulder with a plaque “in loving memory of Laura E.A. Chapman,” founder of the Neighborhood Nature Club in 1930.

Not only did British troops trample across the Chapman property on Cross Highway near the intersection of Compo Road South, but George Washington frequently passed by as he traveled back and forth from Boston.

“A rumor, passed through the Chapman generations, held that George Washington had personally honored the family by spending the night at their house during a visit to Westport,” according to Howland-Murray.

Whether that rumor is true will not be revealed here. Rather, lovers of local history, advocates of preserving vintage houses, and prospective buyers of this house have an opportunity to learn about Washington’s connection and other detailed history of this house at an upcoming special presentation.

On March 30, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation will sponsor two “House Talk” presentations between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Real Estate Listings

According to the Historic Resources Inventory on the town’s website, this house is a “bracketed Italianate” in style, and the date of construction is listed as 1855. Other documents claim that part of the original house burned around 1878 and was rebuilt in 1880.

The house today maintains its historic charm while it has also enjoyed some modernization and an expansion in 2007 to its current 3,876 square feet of living space. Howland-Murray, a professional portrait artist, also added an artist studio and a laundry room that same year.

Despite its vintage, this house features high ceilings, large windows, generously proportioned rooms, and an open flow from room to room. It also features a flexible floor plan. Howland-Murray said it is a comfortable house for entertaining, which extends to the backyard where there is a Gunite in-ground swimming pool with solar cover and a red brick patio.

The taupe-colored house is set back from the road atop a knoll on a property of just over one acre and features a large, welcoming wrap-around porch. The front and back parlors have pocket doors.


STYLE: Antique Colonial

ADDRESS: 39 Cross Highway

PRICE: $995,000


FEATURES: 1.02-acre largely level and gently sloping property, Gunite in-ground swimming pool with solar cover, easy access to the Merritt Parkway, minutes to downtown Westport, exterior lighting, red brick patio, wrap-around covered porch, cable - available, open floor plan, front and rear staircases, dry bar, two fireplaces, wood stove, tank-less hot water, storm doors and windows, natural gas heat, walk-up attic, attic fan, full partially finished walk-out basement, shed, stone wall, attached two-car garage, four bedrooms, two full and two half baths

SCHOOLS: Coleytown Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High School

ASSESSMENT: $884,100

MILL RATE: 16.86 mills

TAXES: $14,906

The front-to-back formal living and dining room leads to the cozy, yet spacious family room, which has a fireplace. The family room opens to the updated cook’s kitchen, which features custom cabinets, a copper farm sink, large center island, a large open pantry, and breakfast area. Stairs lead to the open studio loft.

Front and rear staircases leads to the second floor, which has four bedrooms plus a nursery or sitting room, which could serve as an office. The master bedroom suite has a cathedral ceiling, wood-burning stove, walk-in closet and a bath with a copper claw-foot tub.

The unfinished lower level offers the potential to expand the living space further.

The home has been dearly loved and has withstood the test of time, and awaits your personal touches to bring out its full potential, according to Howland-Murray, who adds that living in a historic home “makes history really come alive.”

There will be a public open house on March 10, 1 to 4 p.m., weather permitting. If the weather does not cooperate look for another open house in the near future.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house contact Sandy Ruta and Marina Leo of Higgins Group Bedford Square at 203-291-7675 or rutaleo@higginsgroup.com.