Three of the most exceptional homes in my neighborhood, sited right along the old thoroughfare that was laid out three hundred years ago and called Main Street, are presently for sale. There is a changing of the guard in this old town. We old folks are fading. What, we didn’t think it could happen to us? Kids grow, we age, the old house ages even more, another chapter beckons.
So here we are hoping that another generation will be enticed by the charms of Main St. Of course we’re hoping for a lot more than that. We’re hoping the charms of the house will remain intact – original wood siding, wood or slate roofs, original windows, doorways, chimneys and its entire package of glorious trim. I know, I’m hoping for a lot. Landscape too – old trees needn’t be cut down and replaced with newer flowering specimens.
Enough worry. Let me tell you about these houses. First, the Watson house. All eight thousand square feet of it. That’s a lot of square feet for a house without an addition. Instead of sideways, this house goes up. Way up. Three amazing stories of antique house – the first of its kind in the CT River Valley. In 1788 John Watson was a wealthy man, and it showed – pedimented doorways, Palladian windows, decorative cornices, columns, and brownstone steps galore. Even the privy is elegant! And the carriage shed, with pilasters and arched openings heavily molded with linen fold key blocks.
Inside is a walk through the history of architectural detail. Original raised paneling decorates every fireplace wall (large and small), wainscoting, doors, flooring, molded cornices – it’s all there, on all three floors. Some bedrooms even have original block printed wallpaper – some French, and one that was printed right here in Hartford.
Of course some updating is needed, some mechanical, mostly cosmetic, and very much daunting for a house of this size. This is why they are asking only $359K. And the fact that a major thoroughfare is nearby – a negative to some, but an opportunity for many – great spot for a home office. The exterior needs repair around windows and eaves to prevent any further leaking, and the entire outside needs scraping and painting. On the inside, some floors have been sanded and the nails sunk to enable the process. Oh my goodness, I can’t think about that travesty. But in spite of it, the house has overwhelming character. Everyone who visits dreams of owning it, perhaps to run as a B&B – which it previously was – or perhaps just to dream.
So now we’re looking for a dreamer. If there’s one out there, with a passion for history, a love of architecture, and a whole lot of either greased elbows or money – we welcome you with open arms and open hearts!
More pictures & info here –
(PS – will add the other two sisters to this post shortly)
Second Sister (oops – this one may not be after all – but someday : )
The mother of all doorways is for sale. The catch – you have to buy the house it’s attached to. And the other CT Valley triangular pediments attached to that, the paneling and other meticulous detail that I’m sure is inside, and the slate roof over it all. Oh, and the acreage. And the history – the ancestral home and property of the family of Ulysses S. Grant.
Of course, you’ll also have to live in an historic neighborhood, on the east side of the Great River, in CT’s first town. Hard to find a down side.
The only down side might be the occasional stopping of cars out front to admire the hand carved broken scroll pediment doorway and doors featured prominently in many books, magazines and publications as the premier example of its type in all of New England.
This house had an earlier start than its noted date of 1757, but its renovation and enlargement to a two chimney grand style, certainly did it no harm. Its interior is probably as rich as its exterior suggests, but we’ll have to wait for those realtor’s pics, or be still my heart – an open house – for more elaboration on that. I know it’s a gem. Even if it were gutted on the inside, its place in history is rich and secure and sealed forever in time by the most magnificent 18th century doorway on the planet.
Feast your eyes on this:
I have been researching the American Picturesque movement of the 19th century and its reason for being. Gothic Revival, Carpenter Gothic – known by many names – highly popular movement away from our classical roots in the antebellum days of the 19th century – strongly influenced by the collaboration of noted architect Alexander Jackson Davis and landscapist Andrew Jackson Downing. Two men with confusingly similar names, kindred spirits in a romantic time. I had not been a fan of this architecture, but the more I learn, the more I appreciate it – especially its grace and simplicity when compared to the later chaos of Second Empire and High Victorian Gothic. The only one of its kind in town, and quite possibly in Hartford County, designed by AJD. It really is exquisite in its detail, high ceilings, and dare I mention – I had previously posted this – its two story outhouse! (which is attached by the way, so maybe it should be “in”-house?)
Lovely barn, two and a half acres, history, lovely neighbors, local library and post office, everything a soul could want – on the market for $575K.
more pics & info –