FAIRFIELD — The quaint seaside fishing village of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is dotted with modest cottages. The scenic waterfront town of Skibbereen on Ireland’s southwest coast features a range of residences from cozy cottages to modest farmhouses to luxury villas.

Southport’s charming landscape along the harbor of the same name features dozens of stately historic manses, many of them built in the 18th and 19th centuries by sea captains and sea merchants.

At, perhaps, the highest point in Southport, atop Rose Hill, there stands a white Victorian-era Second Empire house at 418 Harbor Road with a mansard roof, ornate architectural details including decorative period moldings inside and out, and a stunning view of Southport Harbor. Also within sight from several rooms is Long Island Sound and the Country Club of Fairfield golf course.

A house of this particular architectural style “is large and comfortable, reflecting the growing wealth of the American nation in the years after the Civil War,” according to home improvement guru Bob Vila’s website.

The Mrs. Zalmon Wakeman House is large, with 13 generously sized rooms, 12-foot ceilings, a classic center hall, and 6,532 square feet of living space. It was built by the noteworthy architectural partnership of Edward R. Lambert and Rufus W. Bunnell, whose Bridgeport firm operated from 1860 to 1901. The home’s construction began in 1871 and was completed in 1874.

The historic-structures.com website cites details from The Southport Chronicle reported on March 1, 1871, saying, “W. W. Wakeman, Esqu., is about to erect, on the Hill, ‘a very handsome residence.’ Although we have not seen the plans, we know Mr. (William) Wakeman well enough to be able to say that this will be one of the most attractive houses in this town.” On August 23, 1871, the “Chronicle” noted: “W. W. Wakeman is erecting a stately mansion which crowns one of the most eligible sites on the hill (Rose Hill).”

From the Mystic Seaport Museum website there is mention of “Jesup Wakeman, a resident of Fairfield County, Connecticut,” who had three sons: Maurice, William and Zalmon. “The sons also owned shares in the Schooner CAMBRIDGE of Southport in 1833 ... Zalmon B. Wakeman became a shipmaster by 1838, and later was employed by the shipping firm of Dunham and Dimon in New York.”

Zalmon Bradley Wakeman died in 1865 and his brother William built this house for his sister-in-law, Zalmon’s widow Sarah and her daughters Mary and Frances.

Sarah did not live long enough to take up residence there. She died in 1873, but Mary and Frances lived there until 1913, The Southport Chronicle article said. It goes on to say that, “The house’s weight rests upon a foundation of irregularly coursed cut stone ...” and has interior walls of lath and plaster.

Real Estate Listings

According to information about this house found in the Historic American Buildings Survey on the Library of Congress website: “It is a fine example of the Second Empire style which reached its peak of popularity along the Eastern seaboard during the 1870s. The elegant wooden detailing of the piazza and projecting bays, finely carved by the power lathe and chisel was made possible by a more mature post-Civil War technology. Interior details are as lavish and artistically executed as exterior surfaces. Common to Second Empire architecture, the Wakeman house is characterized by complex detailing, variegated surfaces, polygonal bays, deeply recessed windows and dormers with stilted segmental-arched and circular opening which pierce the Mansard roof.”

The Library of Congress record continues: “The elegant wooden detailing of the front (southeast) piazza brings into sharp focus an authentically American ingenuity. ... The complexity of the facade’s ornament is arranged in a decorative scheme; the plan is also logical ... the highly individualized components of this particular Second Empire work have been laid out in a logical progression to emphasize sharp breaks, rounded curves and warm, interesting shadows.”


TYPE: Antique Second Empire Victorian

ADDRESS: 418 Harbor Road

PRICE: $2,895,000


FEATURES: water community, water views of Southport Harbor, 0.95-acre level property, located in a historic district, separate guest cottage with kitchen and bath, garden area, exterior lighting, professionally landscaped, terrace, slate roof; walking distance to the Pequot Yacht Club, Southport Village, Metro North train station, the Delamar Hotel, Equinox luxury fitness club and the Pequot Library; not far from Southport Beach, easy access to I-95 and Post Road (Route 1), six fireplaces, covered front porch, rear stairs, stained glass windows, natural gas heat, semi-circular crushed stone driveway, stone wall, unfinished basement, attic, attached and detached garages totaling three bays, seven bedrooms, six full and one half baths

SCHOOLS: Mill Hill Elementary, Roger Ludlowe Middle, Fairfield Ludlowe High

ASSESSMENT: $2,485,000

TAX RATE: 26.79 mills

TAXES: $66,573

There are too many details to enumerate all of them, but among the many highlights worth mentioning are the dramatic stained glass skylight and other stained glass windows, the black walnut bookcases in the formal dining room — which are carved with floral and fleur-de-lis designs — and the front drawing room elaborately carved in white pine trims on the fireplace and ceiling.

“Each detail stands out as a separate entity, while also augmenting the effect of the total, unified composition. ... The power lathe and chisel were again used liberally, though not fanatically; sensitive execution without the faintest suggestion of gaudiness adorns all woodwork. ... While a variety of minutely detailed motifs are employed throughout the house on the carved woodworks a unified design emerges,” the Library of Congress report says.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house contact Amy Waugh Curry and Karen S. Oztemel of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties; Curry at 203-913-8744 or acurry@bhhsne.com, and Oztemel at 203-921-8490 or karenoztemel@bhhsne.com.