On the Market / Updated colonial with character
WESTPORT — May is National Preservation Month, although the National Trust for Historic Preservation works to protect and preserve significant American historic places year-round.
A national campaign of the privately funded nonprofit organization, titled “This Place Matters,” encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities.
The Westport Historic District Commission does its part to encourage preservation of historic houses in town. Each year, the WHDC honors several homeowners who restore antique houses rather than raze them.
In 2016, Kevin and Deborah Dorsey were recipients of the Preservation Award for their work to preserve the Alva Finch House at 25 Cavalry Road, which is currently on the market.
Alva Finch should get indirect credit for preserving the house, which was built in 1810. Bad blood between Finch and his brother Samuel led to an extreme measure in 1837, after the death of their father, John Finch.
“Legend has it that the Finch brothers, Sam and Alva, divided their inheritance at the passing of their father, who owned the land as early as 1763. As the story is told, Sam cut off his half of the original farmhouse and hauled it to the other end of the farm, which later became 43 Red Coat Road. As a result, Alva Finch rebuilt his missing half of the original house, which has features of both the Federal and Greek Revival styles,” according to information from the WHDC.
Real Estate Listings
“Despite the divide, each structure remains standing today,” the WHDC document says and, coincidentally, the other half of the original house at 43 Red Coat Road is also currently on the market.
This 3,466-square-foot white clapboard house with black shutters on Cavalry Road in the Coleytown section stands on a 4.24-acre property at the corner of Red Coat Road. It underwent a major face-lift in the Dorsey’s hands. They paid homage to its heritage while imbuing it with cutting-edge design elements and state-of-the-art lifestyle amenities.
The WHDC document says the Dorseys “meticulously restored the house to its former splendor and are currently undertaking the renovation of the barn to house their horse. They have set for themselves a high standard for restoration. The improvements update the residence with 21st-century conveniences, but retain the character of the original structure. They seem to have found the right balance.”
Further, it says, “This handsome, well-proportioned house ... is an example of one of the better local expressions of the Greek revival style.”
The most noteworthy improvements include the updated kitchen and bathrooms, new roof, electric, plumbing, furnace, and central air conditioning. The wide-planked chestnut floorboards were refinished and the flooring in the bathrooms, mudroom and laundry room are now heated. Throughout the house there are seven fireplaces. The one in the formal dining room includes a beehive oven, which can be used as a pizza oven.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
TYPE: Updated Antique Federal Colonial, Greek Revival-style
ADDRESS: 25 Cavalry Road
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 11
FEATURES: 4.24-acre property, sub-dividable property, Westport Historic Preservation Award, 600-square-foot barn, corner lot, wide board flooring, seven fireplaces, instant hot water, cable — pre-wired, underground sprinkler, Thermopane windows, screened porch, open porch, garden area, convenient to the Merritt Parkway, easy commute to Westport and Weston centers and Saugatuck train station, stone walls, walk-up attic, ridge vents, stone foundation, red brick patio, 480-square-foot potting shed, workshop, natural gas heat, unfinished basement, attached two-car garage, four bedrooms, three full and one half baths
SCHOOLS: Coleytown Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High
TAX RATE: 16.86 mills
In the expanded family room, which is open to the gourmet eat-in kitchen, there is a wall of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors to the side yard. Doors also flank the stone fireplace and they lead to the covered bluestone patio.
This property also features a large, red brick patio arranged in a herringbone pattern and bordered by a fieldstone wall. The kitchen features a sizable farm sink, built-in desk area, granite counters, white ceramic subway tile backsplash, and high-end appliances including a Wolf six-burner range with a griddle and Sub-Zero refrigerator.
This house has four bedrooms on the second floor. The master suite features a walk-in closet and a luxurious private bath with a decorative tile floor. As the listing agent says, in this house “history meets modern luxury.”
This house was worth preserving not just for its interesting history of the feuding Finches, but because of its relation to other notable people. This was the first Westport house purchased by early 20th-century architect Frasier Foreman Peters, who lived there from 1919 to 1925, and the stone-faced bank barn that still stands on the property was the first stone structure that Peters built.
Additionally, Bob Weingarten, the Westport Historical Society’s house chairman, said Peters substantiated the story about the division of this house. Peters states in an unpublished manuscript about the divided house and its separate owners, saying to the neighbor who owned the house at 43 Red Coat Road “as a consequence, we both have houses with broken backs.”
Weingarten, an expert on Peters, co-authored a book about the architect with Peters’ granddaughter, Laura Blau, titled “Frazier Foreman Peters: Westport’s Legacy in Stone.”
Also, a previous owner said Angela Lansbury rented the house back in the 1950s. Lansbury is a Tony and Golden Globe-winning actress most known as the mystery writer Jessica Fletcher in the television show “Murder, She Wrote” and the voice of Mrs. Potts in the animated Disney film “Beauty and the Beast.”
This property can be sold one of three ways: As a whole with the house and 4.24-acre property, or a separate sub-divided lot of 2.04 acres, or the house and 2.20-acre lot.
For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Barbara Reynolds of Halstead Real Estate at 203-216-2591 or firstname.lastname@example.org.