On the Market / Historic onion barn-turned-residence for sale
WESTPORT — The rich and rocky soil of Connecticut has yielded a wide variety of produce for centuries. The towns of Westport and Fairfield were known in the mid-to-late 1800s for their abundant crops of commercially grown onions, including on the property at 161 Sturges Highway, which is on the market.
“In the mid-19th century, Fairfield farmers were raising about 41,250 bushels of globe onions per year,” according to the town of Fairfield’s website. “Farmers from atop Mill Hill and Greenfield Hill kept an eye to the harbor for market boats that would carry their produce. When one was spotted, word spread, and lines of loaded carts and wagons soon appeared on the roads into Southport,” the website says.
“Horse and oxen teams then carried the onions to the shipping docks,” according to an article by Gregg Mangan on the website www.connecticuthistory.org. Mangan said the most prosperous years for onion farming in Westport lasted from around 1860 until 1885.
It declined by the end of the century, but even as onion and other farmland has disappeared from the landscape, some of its structures have not. Some people have repurposed them in a way that preserves local history and provides a comfortable home to residents who appreciate the historic and architectural value of such buildings.
An onion barn that was built circa 1789 at 161 Sturges Highway remains on that site, although it no longer stores the onion crop that sprang from that property about 150 years ago. The Goodsell Barn was converted into a residence circa 1920, and has since been expanded and updated. The 3,637-square-foot antique red barn is a warm and inviting home where past and present are woven together.
Original details remain, such as the barn’s posts and beams, carved paneling in formal spaces, leaded glass windows, quarter-sawn hardwood oak floors, plaster walls and ceilings, wrought iron railings, barn siding and more. To those original features were added contemporary windows, walls of glass, skylights, and sliding doors to the 3.57-acre level and sloping property.
Despite the age of this structure it lives like a modern day home. There are defined rooms and yet there is an open floor plan that suits day-to-day living and entertaining, which is augmented by a large brick patio and wood deck. The patio serves as a giant welcome mat on the front of the house. It is the rear side of the house that faces the road.
This house is in the Coleytown neighborhood on the border of Fairfield. In fact, the house across the street from this one has a Fairfield address, and this house probably has ties to a prominent Fairfield family. The Rev. John Goodsell was “the first true minister” of the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, according to the church website. He was ordained on May 18, 1726.
Travel up the long gravel driveway of this property, with an open lawn surrounded by woodlands, to reach the front entrance. The door opens into an attractive two-story foyer with a marble floor and a decorative wrought iron railing in the loft-like second floor landing that looks down into the foyer. In the spacious formal living room there is a fireplace and built-in bookshelves. The living room is open to the formal dining room, which has a wall of leaded glass windows.
Real Estate Listings
The gourmet eat-in kitchen has a more contemporary feel with its blend of sleek modern stainless steel appliances and warm woods. It features a two-story gabled ceiling, new double pane windows, large center island with a wood counter, a second counter space topped with Carrara marble, and high-end appliances including a Thermador five-burner induction range top. French doors access the deck, patio, and front yard. Above the eat-in area there is a vintage cow bell. This area of the kitchen has sliding doors to the large screened porch.
The first floor has a room that could be a bedroom if necessary, and another room, which serves as an office with separate entrance from the outside. On the full partially finished walk-out lower level there is a space that could also be used as a home office. This level has a television or play room. There is also a work room, a mudroom area, laundry, and access to the attached, heated two-car garage, which can actually accommodate a third vehicle in a tandem space. The garage has a wall of windows.
On the second floor, there are four bedrooms on various levels offering each room privacy. The master suite has a fireplace and a bath with vanity topped in honed granite and a tumbled marble floor.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
TYPE OF HOUSE: Antique converted barn
ADDRESS: 161 Sturges Highway
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 9
FEATURES: 3.57-acre level and sloping property, large brick patio, wood deck, storm windows, screened porch, only six minutes to shopping and restaurants on Post Road (Route 1), cable available, skylights, screened porch, two fireplaces, stone wall, walk-up attic, ridge vents, attached under house two-car garage, zoned oil heat, full partially finished walk-out lower level, stone tool shed, four bedrooms, four full and one half baths
SCHOOL: Coleytown Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High
TAX RATE: 16.86 mills
Although some people have the misconception that this part of town is far from local amenities, it is really only about six minutes to the Post Road (Route 1) shops and restaurants in Westport and Fairfield.
For information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Mary Ellen Gallagher of KMS Partners/Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 203-216-0699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.