On the Market / Renovated and restored, homeowners put a modern spin on Westport estate
WESTPORT — Time was running out for an 18th century Westport house when a local couple stepped up to save it from the wrecking ball. The updated antique colonial house at 101 Clapboard Hill Road was only three weeks from being razed when Ariane Mermod and her husband decided to purchase it and restore it to its former glory, and then some.
The couple worked closely with Joseph Bergin, an Essex-based architect known for historic preservation, to set into motion a thoughtful expansion and restoration project. “The homeowners have put a thoroughly modern spin on this timeless gem with high ceilings, great flow and awash in light in preparation for the next 250 years,” the listing agent said. The result is a seamless dance between antiquity and modernity for the Gideon Wakeman House, which was built in 1782. Many of its historic elements and its 19th century character were preserved even while the house was elevated substantially to accommodate 21st century living.
Among the contemporary comforts and amenities found in this 7,196-square-foot house and its two-acre property are the gunite heated in-ground swimming pool, a pool house with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, a 1,500 bottle wine “cellar” on the main level, new plumbing and HVAC, and smart house technology featuring an app that allows for voice-activated control of lights, thermostats and sound. Some rooms have built-in cabinetry and shelving designed by Mermod.
Original features that were maintained include exposed hand-hewn beams on the ceilings and walls of several rooms, wide-planked oak wood floors, and the broken-scroll pediment over the door of the front entrance. A post and beam three-car garage with a lift and a two-bedroom guest house complete this two-acre level property on a corner lot in the Greens Farms neighborhood. The newly refurbished 1,000-square-foot guest house is a legal rental and has a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry and one-car garage. The owners replaced 32 panes of glass, special ordering restoration-quality wavy glass to replicate vintage window panes. The original 12-over-12 double-hung windows remain on the second floor.
The couple’s efforts were recognized in 2010 by members of the Westport Historic District Commission, who bestowed upon the couple the prestigious Preservation Award. It looks like an award-winner from the moment one turns into the crushed stone driveway with an ample forecourt. A wide bluestone path leads to the front entrance. Inside, there are 18 rooms, several of which have fireplaces original to the house.
The original structure was built as a saltbox with a traditional sharply slanted roof at the back. During the renovation the ceilings in the back of the house were raised to match the eight-foot ceilings in the front. On the second floor the ceilings were also raised, and in the newer addition, where the spacious gourmet kitchen is located, the floor was lowered and the ceiling was raised to increase the ceiling height to nine feet. This classic kitchen features Carrara marble counters and high-end appliances including a Viking Professional six-burner range. The trim and detailing of the kitchen was inspired by the doors of an earlier Italianate renovation.
In a wide gallery at the back of the house, off the front-to-back formal living room, there are built-in cabinets and a large fireplace that may have been part of the original kitchen. The family room is quite large and features a red brick fireplace and a wall of windows with two sets of French doors to the beautiful bluestone terraced patio, pool, backyard, and gardens. There is a pass-through window from the family room to the kitchen where there is a wet bar, a great feature for entertaining.
On the second floor there are five bedrooms and a cavernous Adirondack room with a tall pine wood cathedral ceiling and ceiling fan. This media and game room offers surround sound with a 12-foot screen. It sits above the attached three-car garage. American Country Barns designed that garage and the pool house. This barn-like garage was built with the same post and beam construction style of the original house.
The master bedroom suite, while quite large, still feels intimate and almost European boutique hotel-like. The master bedroom itself has a red brick fireplace, sitting area, huge walk-in closet, and original Palladian window. The latter serves as a unifying element tying together the original Palladian windows on the front façade and the decorative gabled dormers. The spa-like master bath features a steam shower, soaking tub, Waterworks fixtures, and a dressing room. Four additional en suite bedrooms and an office are included in a separate wing.
There is a bedroom and full bath on the finished third floor, where there is also a large room with flexible use as a play room, art studio or office. It has built-in cabinetry, a desk area, and a window seat.
This property is a short walk to the Greens Farms Metro North train station and Burying Hill Beach.
For information or to set up an appointment to see the house contact Emily Gordon of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury at 203-451-6432 or Emily.Gordon@coldwellbanker