On the Market: Historic arts home for sale in Westport
WESTPORT — Westport has long been a hotbed of artistic talent. In the 20th century the town was home to many famous artists and illustrators, among them the award-winning Hardie Gramatky (1907-1979), a children’s book author and illustrator perhaps best known for Little Toot, his 1939 book about a mischievous tugboat in New York harbor that becomes a hero.
Gramatky, who was also a Disney animator and created art for a number of magazines, worked from his art studio in the home he shared with wife Dorothea Cooke Gramatky and daughter Linda Gramatky Smith, both also artists. Gramatky purchased that home - a gray farmhouse at 60 Roseville Road in the Long Lots neighborhood, the day after Christmas in 1946 sight unseen. It was built in 1923.
The next owner will live in a home that is part of Westport’s illustrious arts history, where the creative spirit of its previous inhabitants are embedded in the walls of its 10 rooms and 2,571 square footage. Hardie Gramatky wrote 14 books while he lived there. The property itself was inspiring to Gramatky, who often captured in his watercolor paintings various scenes on his spectacular 1.9-acre level and sloping property, a portion of which his daughter called the “magical forest down in our back acres.”
The enchanting property can be appreciated from every room and includes winter views of Long Island Sound. Gramatky’s work earned respect from many in the art world.
“The ultimate compliment came two years ago in a rare interview by American painter Andrew Wyeth. Asked to list the twenty all-time great American watercolorists, he named my favorites like Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe. He also named Hardie Gramatky. My modest father would have been amazed to be in such company,” Linda Gramatky Smith said in an article she wrote for Westport Magazine December 2008.
In that same article Gramatky Smith said “My father always welcomed neighborhood children who wanted to see his studio or try their hand at watercolor, while Mom would put out lemonade and a plate of homemade cookies.” “It’s been a very, very happy house,” she said this month sitting in the living room of this house, in which she grew up.
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The Gramatkys and the previous original owner expanded this house twice, in one case creating a wing around a breezeway. The other enlarged the living and dining rooms. The most recent work was done by the late Grover Mills, a well-known local craftsman and contractor.
The aqua-colored Dutch front door opens to the good size living room revealing a house that feels spacious and very airy despite its lower ceilings and smaller square footage compared to today’s “McMansions.” And the house is flooded with natural light, as one might expect in a place where art was created. The morning sun starts at the back of the house then the front gets the afternoon glow of sunsets.
In the living room the features include exposed beams, red brick fireplace with a white wood paneled mantel, built-in bookshelves and china cabinet, and a door to a deck that looks over the property. French doors in the living room open to the sun porch, where Gramatky often painted, although he used a second floor bedroom as his studio. The porch has a long built-in shelves along one wall. The living room is open to the dining room, which also has exposed beams.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Farm House
ADDRESS: 60 Roseville Road
FEATURES: part of Westport’s legendary arts history, 1.9-acre level and sloping property, proximity to trains, close to shops and restaurants, stream, deck, red brick patio, porch, tool shed, one fireplace, semi-circular driveway, two-car garage, ample storage, gas heat, full partially finished basement, stone foundation, stone walls, attic, five bedrooms, three full and one half baths
SCHOOLS: Long Lots Elementary, Bedford Middle, Staples High School
MILL RATE: 16.86 mills
Kitchen features include a larch wood floor, more exposed beams - although these are painted white whereas the others are left natural, two sinks, and a backsplash of white ceramic tile with personalized decorative tile inserts depicting Siberian irises, wine bottle and glasses, serving spoons and other appropriate culinary themes. The floating glass-front cabinets open on one side into the kitchen and on the other into the eat-in area or breakfast room, which has a cedar wood floor.
Off the kitchen is an office, half bath and laundry room. Another first floor wing has two bedrooms and access to the two-car attached garage with stairs to storage space.
An arched doorway in the living room leads to the stairs to the second floor where there are three more bedrooms. The master suite has a full bath and three walk-in closets, the doors of which have the original hardware. One of the other bedrooms has a sink.
On the partially finished lower level, part of the later addition, there is a family room and two sets of French doors to the yard.
This house is a short distance to shops and restaurants on the Post Road (Rt. 1) and the train shuttle conveniently stops right at the driveway.