On the market / Westport house boasts privacy, yet is just a walk from town
WESTPORT — Step into the renovated colonial house at 38 Evergreen Ave. and the creative inspiration that resides within its walls is almost palpable.
This 4,300-square-foot house was the residence of two creative geniuses, both of whom left a substantial mark on the art world, and one who also left an indelible influence on the music industry. Famed illustrator Harold von Schmidt (1893-1982) purchased the home for his family. His son, Eric von Schmidt, later returned to his childhood home and lived there until his passing in 2007.
Harold von Schmidt, a California native, said in a Westport News article of Oct. 17, 1968, “I knew a couple of fellows from the west, Clinton Shepherd and John Held; both had houses here and I had grown up with them. And then we saw this house ... we liked it and stayed.” John Held (1889-1958), also a well-known illustrator, lived in neighboring Weston and his home is on the market, as well.
Von Schmidt’s work was often published in the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s, and he was “ranked with artist Frederick Remington as one of the country’s leading chroniclers of the West.” He received the first gold medal of the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma. His former studio on the 1.53-acre property is now a guest cottage and has been approved as a legal rental. He was referred to in the October 1968 Westport News story as “a veritable town father,” and in the same newspaper on Sept. 12, 1975, he was called a “human landmark” for his numerous civic responsibilities, including service on the Board of Selectmen and Police Commission.
In a February 2001 Westport magazine article, Linda M. Clifford identified Eric von Schmidt as “a man as skilled with a paintbrush as with a guitar pick.” Eric was a Grammy Award-winning musician, singer and composer who recorded six solo albums, and his songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, James Taylor and Johnny Cash. “If you’ve loved folk music from the 1960s on, you probably owe a debt to Eric von Schmidt,” according to a January 2018 Sarasota magazine story. He received an American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ lifetime achievement award. As an artist Eric illustrated the Joan Baez songbook, and created large-scale paintings of “Custer’s Last Stand” and “The Storming of the Alamo.” He was commissioned by Academy Award-winning actor and fellow Westport resident Paul Newman to paint panels at Newman’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp, and he designed the original packaging for Newman’s Own Roadside Virgin Lemonade.
The house that both Renaissance men called home was built in 1927 and renovated from top to bottom in 2008. The house alone is worth considering, but it is elevated further by its prime location and the features it contains. The level and sloping property adjoins Winslow Park and has a bridge over the brook in the private backyard to a path leading directly into the park. The house is walking distance to downtown shops and restaurants.
There is a bocce court in the backyard and a fieldstone grotto with a built-in fireplace and grill. There is at least one pool site if the next owners are interested in installing an in-ground swimming pool. A stone wall lines the front of the property. The pebble driveway lined in Belgium block accommodates multiple vehicles for those bocce games and barbecues in the backyard. Inside, the cook’s kitchen, featuring a cobalt blue professional-grade Viking range as its focal point, can cater to the daily needs of the family and the entertaining of guests.
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The living room features a red brick fireplace, wide-planked hardwood floors and exposed beams that are original to the house. A Dutch door opens from the living room into a study or library. It accesses a butler’s pantry with a wet bar and the family room, which has sliding doors to the bluestone patio. It is open to the kitchen. The eat-in part of the kitchen has a built-in banquette, pantry closet and two center islands topped with marble counters. The dining room has paneling on the lower walls and a bay window.
Upstairs, there are four en suite bedrooms, the master suite in its own private wing. It has an onyx fireplace, a large sitting area, a long wall of closets, built-in bookshelves, marble bath and two separate doors to a private balcony.
In the basement there is a playroom. The renovated guest cottage has a new kitchen and bath.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
For information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Cyd Hamer of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty at 917-744-5089 or firstname.lastname@example.org.