On the Market: Quaint cottage with lots of potential

WESTPORT — Construction commenced on the historic, limited access Merritt Parkway in 1934, “and by June 1938 the first 17.5 miles of the parkway were opened to the public,” according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation website.

Perhaps understanding the benefit of having such easy access to a major transportation route, especially one that headed west to New York City, George P. Van Riper purchased property at 304 Wilton Road in the Red Coat neighborhood only a month after the Parkway opened.

The beige cottage enjoys immediate access to the Merritt Parkway. The house is not visible to motorists entering and exiting the Parkway. It is hidden behind tall privacy fencing. The backyard of this 1.11-acre level property is also private with a tall stand of trees encircling the yard of this charming property.

The Merritt 7 train station is only seven minutes away. It has lots of free parking and commuter trains to New York City. This house is also very close to the Westport-Weston Family YMCA, the new MoCA Westport (Museum of Contemporary Art/Westport Arts Center), and The Country Store deli and gas station.

It is the ideal location for a writer or an artist, or anyone engaged in creative endeavors. The inspiring property has long been the residence, art studio and teaching space of Betsy Beach, who operates her Creative Art Studio classes and summer camps there.

“The house has enabled me to have my business because of the location and the set up,” said Beach, a landscape painter and potter.

The art studio has a bay window and it is set up in what was the original kitchen of the house. The wing that holds the current kitchen was not part of the original construction. It was added at a later date, sometime before 1948. The kitchen has a wall of natural stone and a large picture window.

Beach has a fascinating, and appropriate way of describing this structure. She calls it “a big, small house, a new, old house.” At 1,400 square feet of living space most would consider this house small by today’s standards, and yet it has an open floor plan and a spacious great room with a tall cathedral ceiling.


TYPE: Cottage

ADDRESS: 304 Wilton Road

PRICE: $489,000


FEATURES: 1.11-acre level property, permit for a home business, exterior lighting, patio, screened porch, one stone fireplace, easy access to the Merritt Parkway, vinyl siding, detached one-car garage, semi-circular driveway, proximity to the Westport-Weston Family YMCA and the new MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), central air conditioning, oil heat, full unfinished dry basement, septic system, public water connection, three bedrooms, two full baths

SCHOOLS: Kings Highway Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High

ASSESSMENT: $335,800

TAX RATE: 16.86 mills

TAXES: $5,662

The flexible space offers lots of potential. It also takes advantage of the exterior so that the living space is extended to the outdoors. There is a sizable screened porch and an enclosed patio area between the house and the detached one-car garage.

Beach uses the garage as a pottery studio, but it could easily be converted back to its original purpose. Despite the vintage of the garage Beach said she had it measured and it is wide enough to accommodate modern SUVs.

The house is full of interesting features including a number of Dutch doors to the outdoors, and there is not one doorknob inside. All the doors have wrought iron latches. In the great room there is a floor-to-ceiling wood-burning stone fireplace, built-in bookshelves, exposed beams, wood paneled walls, and wide-planked wood flooring.

There are three bedrooms, one being used as the art studio/classroom space, and a guest suite on the main floor. The third, the large master, is en suite and located on the second floor. It features a number of closets and an interior balcony looking down into the great room.

“Perfect for buyers looking for something special and unique,” according to the listing agent.

Research conducted by Bob Weingarten, the Westport Historical Society’s House Historian and Plaque Coordinator, uncovered documentation showing a deed transferred from Charles B. Ulrich to Van Riper in July 1938, just a month after the Parkway opened. Further, Weingarten found that Van Riper received a mortgage of $5,000 in December 1938. Weingarten confirmed the house was in fact built in 1938 by searching through the Westport street directories and tax records.

According to Weingarten, the street directories were published only in odd years back then. In 1937 there was no entry for a house at 304 Wilton Road, “but in 1939 the directory has the names of ‘Van Riper, George and DeVeaux, Lyle, real estate’ at the appropriate house location,” he said. DeVeaux was Van Riper’s business partner. The two had an office in Wilton.

There will be a public open house on Sept. 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. This open house is on Saturday rather than the typical Sunday.

For more information visit www.304wiltonroad.bhhsneproperties.com. To set up an appointment to see the house, contact Amy Waugh Curry of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties at 203-913-8744 or acurry@bhhsne.com.

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