WILTON — Efforts are made in almost every municipality to preserve historic houses, although there are plenty that don’t escape the wrecking ball. That could have been the fate of the John Belden Mill House, a stone and wood antique raised Cape Cod-style house at 96 Old Mill Road that was originally built circa 1730 and painstakingly restored by Andrew and Laura Payne in the late 20th century.

It began as a fixer-upper project but became a Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut (HOBI)-Award-winning restoration project, according to the listing agent. The restoration also caught the attention of the staff at This Old House. This old house in the historic Georgetown village was featured in the special 25th anniversary issue of that magazine in October 2004 with an eight-page spread. The listing agent said this home was also named a first place winner in Better Homes and Gardens’ “antique restoration.”

During the major renovation the Paynes moved this historic house into the modern era while also respecting the past. They preserved the original post and beam timber framing and tongue-and-groove oak and heart pine wide planked flooring. The flooring in the living room is chestnut, which, according to a Wilton Historical Society document, suggests it was installed after 1800.

According to the article in This Old House magazine there is a rope-and-barrel pulley system suspended from the bead board ceiling of the sunroom. The pulley system was used to dip into a well beneath the floor.

That document from the Wilton Historical Society, titled Anatomy of a Colonial House, indicates there are many similarities between this John Belden Mill House and the Smith-Hull House at 17 Umpawaug Road, which was built circa 1741 in neighboring Redding. The document claims “the fireplace foundation with the enclosed massive beehive oven and corresponding flue through the center of the chimney mass” is dry laid stonework nearly identical to that of the Smith-Hull House “and may have been laid by the same mason.”

It also said the angled parlor fireplace “is a Norwalk tradition dating back to the 17th century and is less common in surrounding towns until after 1800.” Further, it says, the chimney contains various brick types that were “likely kilned in the immediate area from clay found along the sides of the Norwalk River.” The river is across the street from this house.

The Historical Society document also says all but one of the doors are original to the house, that timbers milled on-site and used to build the house were likely from trees found in the immediate area, and the orientation of the front entrance changed when the road was relocated in 1795. In front yard there is a stone patio on one side and a patterned red brick patio on the other. The house and its three-story barn sit on a property of about two thirds of an acre. The barn serves as a parking garage with three bays as well a party barn and game room. It also has a workshop.

Inside the 4,244-square-foot house most of the rooms have exposed hand-hewn beams on the ceilings and walls. There are original fireplaces in the formal dining room, living room, and parlor. While many original features were preserved this house clearly fits into the 21st century. The spacious modern gourmet kitchen was designed by Klaffs and features a center island, farm sink, Carrara marble counters, white ceramic subway tile backsplash, and high-end appliances including a Wolf four-burner range with a large grill and double ovens. The island has two sections, one with a marble counter and the other with a thick wood butcher block counter and a hammered brass sink. There is a pot-filler above the range. In the eat-in area there are two sets of French doors to the brick patio.

On the second floor there are four bedrooms, and one bathroom has an old-fashioned claw-foot slipper tub. Two rooms were combined to create the sizable master suite, which features an adjoining sitting room, a balcony, one large walk-in closet and two other closets, and a marble master bath with custom-designed European tiling. The bedroom has a barrel ceiling. Two separate doors open to the upper level of the property where there are two espaliered trees against the house, a driveway to the barn, and stone steps to another upper level featuring a landscaped area perfect for a sporting or bocce court.

The lower level features a game room, recreation room and a full bath.

This property is close to shopping and restaurants and minutes to the Metro North train and Wilton schools. The Cannondale station is also nearby.

For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Bob Travers of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 203-858-1683 or bob@bobtravers.com.

Real Estate Listings

More Information

ABOUT THIS HOUSE

STYLE: Restored antique raised Cape Cod

ADDRESS: 96 Old Mill Road

PRICE: $888,000

ROOMS: 12

FEATURES: 0.7-acre level and sloping property, three-story barn with vehicle bays, generator, audio system, view of the Norwalk River, red brick patio, enclosed porch, balcony, underground sprinkler, stone wall, four fireplaces, two laundry rooms, only three minutes to Metro-North train station, close to Georgetown shopping district and Wilton center, hand-split cedar shakes roof, full finished basement, attic, four bedrooms, three full and two half baths

SCHOOLS: Miller-Driscoll Elementary, Cider Mill Intermediate, Middlebrook Middle, Wilton High

ASSESSMENT: $559,930

MILL RATE: 27.77 mills

TAXES: $15,549