On the Market: Greek Revival in Fairfield boasts historical details
FAIRFIELD — Nineteenth century sea captain Aaron Moses Sherwood would not recognize the Federal/Greek Revival house he built in 1835, let alone find it.
Were Sherwood to dock in nearby Southport Harbor and walk to the original location of his house, then at 658 Pequot Ave. across from Trinity Church, he would learn that subsequent owner Simon Banks, a shipping merchant in the onion trade, moved it in October 1869 to its present location: 98 Banks Place.
Both men would stand on this private lane in disbelief and wonder at the sight of this modern day masterpiece that also honors the past. The house has undergone several major renovations, including one in 1916 by famed local architect Cameron Clark, and another early in the new millennium that earned its then-homeowners a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Southport Conservancy in 2003 for the “careful and sympathetic preservation of the original architectural features of this important Southport landmark.”
With that in mind, what recognition might the current owners get for their recent expansion and overhaul, which preserved the home’s historic integrity and period details while imbuing it with luxurious modern features?
“Banks Place Farm is a rare find in the heart of Southport Village. This 1835 Greek Revival home has been meticulously restored, renovated and expanded, (making it) a study in refined craftsmanship, bespoke elegance and modern amenities,” the listing agent said.
The Moses Sherwood-Simon Banks House sits on a 5.44-acre property comprising three parcels - two of which are designated farmland, on a cul-de-sac just on the edge of the local historic district; not in it. So, the owners had no obligation to preserve the home’s exterior, yet they went the extra mile to do so. Among the features that were preserved are the elliptical fan-light transom and sidelights in a foliate leaded glass pattern that frame the front entrance; prominent features of the Federal-Adamesque style.
“It was important for us to maintain the historical details and respect the house but update it,” one of the current homeowners said of the recent renovation project, which expanded the house from 3,162 square feet of living space to 5,699 square feet.
So respectful were they that they examined Library of Congress photos of the home’s fireplaces, floors, cornice block molding and other architectural features. When they added new columns to the wrap-around covered porch, they made sure the 21st century machine-manufactured columns replicated the original hand-sawn Italianate columns right down to their initial imperfections. Original floorboards were pulled up, refinished and put back in place. And that’s just the level of detail they conducted for the exterior.
Working with John Toates, of John Toates Architecture and Design — a Pennsylvania firm that specializes in restoration — the owners restored the original historic core and designed two additional wings. They created multiple, well-designed and -thought-out living spaces masterfully blending Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt-inspired aesthetic with historically correct Federal details. Spacious rooms offer flexibility, sophistication and comfort for today’s living and entertaining needs. An ultimate work-from-home office is easily converted to a guest room with two custom hidden Murphy beds. Not working from home? The Southport Metro-North Railroad train station is within easy walking distance, as is the Pequot Library.
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“Original areas were stripped to the framing, and all original trim was carefully removed, repaired and reinstalled … Restoration glass and brass weight and chain custom windows were used throughout. The walls and ceilings were finished in rough plaster above wainscoting,” the agent said. Original floors of red oak, white oak and pine were discovered under several layers of flooring and were also restored. An old candle closet found in a wall was converted into a deep coat closet for the reception hall.
Sophisticated paneling was added to the living room to create a more formal space. In a sitting room, they installed an imported Swedish wood-burning stove and French doors to the porch.
Moving from the formal to less formal areas of the house, the moldings and millwork go from ornate to more simple in design. A reading nook with a built-in seat or day bed serves as a transitional space between the two.
TYPE: Updated Antique Federal/Greek Revival Colonial
ADDRESS: 98 Banks Place
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 11
FEATURES: Water community; walking distance to Southport Harbor, Southport Village center, the Pequot Library and Southport Metro-North Railroad train station; 5.44-acre level property comprising three parcels, farmland, located on a cul-de-sac, classic red barn/three-car garage, wood deck, wrap around porch, underground utilities; perennial gardens, parterre herb/kitchen garden, apple orchard, exterior lighting, underground sprinkler, new siding, cedar roof, flooring, windows and doors; new electrical and plumbing, four geothermal wells installed for HVAC, skylights, freshly painted exterior, pre-wired for cable, front and rear stairs, three fireplaces, antique Swedish wood-burning stove, vegetable gardens with deer fencing, laundry chute, central air conditioning, zoned geothermal and natural gas heat, 100-gallon water heater tank, public water connection, septic system, full unfinished basement, attic, four bedrooms, four full and one half baths
SCHOOLS: Mill Hill Elementary, Roger Ludlowe Middle, Fairfield Ludlowe High
TAX RATE: 26.79 mills
Although the gourmet kitchen is meant to be French country-style, it really enjoys influences from throughout Europe and the United States. It features Danby Vermont marble counters, custom cabinetry with hardware made locally in Torrington, a backsplash of hand-made tiles imported from Spain, and the sizable pantry has Belgium bluestone radiant heated flooring. Top-of-the-line appliances include a French-imported Lacanche range. There are two islands — one topped with reclaimed barn wood taken from the house during the restoration, a farm sink and character oak flooring.
A whole wall of vintage Hopes steel-framed casement windows give the dining room a conservatory feel, enhanced by the visibility of the parterre kitchen herb garden in the yard.
There are too many details to enumerate but don’t miss the new master suite, its luxurious bath, the impressive great room — and keep eyes peeled for the hidden staircase.
For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Amy Waugh Curry of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties at 203-913-8744 or email her at email@example.com.