On the Market: Antique Cape Cod in Westport boasts historical, architectural significance

WESTPORT — Abraham Lincoln freed slaves during the Civil War, delivering his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, although it was not until June 19, 1865, some 2 ½ years later, that word reached the state of Texas.

June 19, or Juneteenth, commemorates the abolishment of slavery in the United States, although there were other enslaved people who were freed here in the Northeast decades earlier. In Westport, David Judah signed emancipation papers in 1799 setting free a man named Tim, who had been owned by Capt. Joseph Bennett, a Revolutionary War veteran.

That fact, and others, magnify the historical importance of the David Judah House, a vintage Cape Cod at 96 Kings Highway North in the Old Hill neighborhood, circa 1760, which is on the market. The listing agent called the purchase of this home “a very rare opportunity to own a home of this significance and caliber,” adding that the house “awaits the next chapter of its history,” with its new owners.

Judah, the patriarch of one of Westport’s first Jewish families and a justice of the peace, was also “a soldier in the Connecticut Line in 1776,” according to the Jewish Virtual Library, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, meaning he probably fought against tyranny in the American Revolution. Judah was reportedly one of the town’s first merchants.

The home’s architectural and historical significance has been recognized by town preservationists. This vintage house has been painstakingly and lovingly preserved and restored, the agent said, and that renovation project caught the eye of Westport’s Historic District Commission. In 2016, the HDC bestowed upon this house the Helen Muller Award for an Outstanding Property in a Local Historic District, saying of its owners in the citation “who purchased the house in 2014 and have since gone through a meticulous restoration, preserving every nail and piece of timber possible.”

The following year the David Judah House was included on the Holiday House Tour hosted by the former Westport Historical Society, now known as the Westport Museum for History and Culture. That inclusion on the tour sort of brings the house full circle. At the museum the names of Tim, his wife Lill, also a freed Westport slave, and their two children Almine and Amos, are etched into red bricks in a walk that memorializes Westport’s enslaved people.

The 10-room, 3,436-square-foot house sits in the Kings Highway North Historic District on a corner lot, across and to the right of the triangular green at the intersection Edge Hill Road, Kings Highway North, and Old Hill Road. “The triangular green was used as a training post in the French Indian War from 1754-1763 and later the Patriot militia during the Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold’s Patriot militia were stationed at Old Hill Road and trained there,” according to historic information provided by the current owners and several online sources.

Information from the homeowners suggests that “once indoor plumbing became fashionable two bathrooms were added circa 1880. An addition was constructed in 1919 by renowned Westport artist, Caroline van Hook Bean, who used it as an art studio.” A major renovation began in 2015 and uncovered evidence of a second addition. “During the roofing project in 2015, a newspaper dated 1938 was found between the walls suggesting the extension was built around that period,” the owners said. “No expense was spared in preserving every inch of the property and home,” and where preservation was not possible, they restored it “to historically correct standards.”

Inside, the spacious living and family rooms feature exposed beams, and large fireplaces; the one in the living room has an inserted stove. The family room features a cathedral ceiling and a staircase to the second floor with decorative wrought iron railings. The banquet-sized formal dining room features wainscoting on the lower walls and French doors to the red brick patio and private backyard.

More Information

TYPE: Antique Cape Cod

ADDRESS: 96 Kings Highway North, Westport

PRICE: $1,250,000


FEATURES: half mile to the heart of downtown Westport, 0.52-acre level property, corner lot, historic district, red brick patio, deck, garden area, wet bar; close to town, train, shopping, restaurants, public library, Levitt Pavilion, and beaches; convenient commuting distance to I-95 and Merritt Parkway, close to Post Road (Route 1), cable - available, possible in-law or au pair suite, fully restored functional mahogany storm triple-track windows, five fireplaces, wood shingle roof (Alaskan Yellow Cedar - Cyprus), converted from oil to natural gas heat, Weil-McClain gas boiler installed in 2016, 40-gallon water heater tank, public water and sewer connections, partially finished basement, attached under house three-car garage, five bedrooms, four full and one half baths

SCHOOLS: Kings Highway Elementary, Coleytown Middle, Staples High

ASSESSMENT: $605,200

TAX RATE: 16.86 mills

TAXES: $10,204

The fully remodeled kitchen features a farm country/coastal chic look and feel and it has solid two-inch Carrera marble counters, breakfast bar, character grade random width white oak wood floors, custom wood cabinetry, open shelving, high end appliances, and a breakfast nook with a Dutch door to the deck. The adjoining lounge area features a full bar with solid three-inch pencil soapstone countertops and custom wood cabinetry.

The master bedroom suite is on the main level and has a fireplace, exposed beams, and its dressing area has plenty of closet space as well as another fireplace. Three more bedrooms are upstairs, and the fifth is on the lower level is perfect for a teen suite, au-pair or separate guest quarters. Where there is another fireplace.

All stone walls on the property, some dating to the early 1800s, were manually restored using existing or regional fieldstone and a dry process in which stones are held together only by gravity and friction.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Judy Szablak of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 203-257-5892 or jszabb@gmail.com.