On the market: Classic Southport home has vintage character, modern upgrades
FAIRFIELD — Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to and buried on St. Helena Island in the Valley of the Willows, thousands of miles and several times zones from the Southport section of Fairfield. And yet, the French leader’s gravesite inspired the name for Willow Street in Southport Village.
According to several websites many people took cuttings of willow trees from Bonaparte’s grave and one local legend claims that a member of the locally influential Bulkley family took a willow tree from near that site.
Within a few years of Bonaparte’s death on May 5, 1821, a member of the Bulkley family built a house on Willow Street at the corner of Westway Road. According to information provided by one of the listing agents that quintessential Southport Village Colonial house at 14 Willow St. was built circa 1825 by Lot Bulkley, whose father founded the shipping company, E. Bulkley & Sons of New York City.
The white house with pale-gray shutters is one block away from Southport Harbor and local amenities — including the village, train station and Pequot Library, are within easy walking distance.
Sarah Powel lived in the Lot Bulkley House for about 40 years. She and her husband raised their children there and she moved out in 2002. She returned to the house for a recent visit and hardly recognized it. The Powel family made minor modifications, but more recent homeowners transformed it into a 21st Century residence, although they preserved many vintage features.
It underwent a major renovation in 2011, which included extensive structural and aesthetic work designed by local architect Jack Franzen. The work included the addition of a large modern kitchen with adjacent family room, powder room, staircase, closets, kitchen pantry and restoration of the original beehive stove/fireplace and the wide plank wood floors. That large, long red-brick fireplace was hidden behind a wall and Powel said she had no idea it even existed. "I never knew it was there. It may have been part of the original kitchen. That’s what we think," she said.
A new 900-square-foot addition provided space for a sun room, office, mudroom and guest suite with a full bath. In all, the house has 5,457 square feet of living space.
The house also received an electrical upgrade, central vacuum system, hot water system and extensive landscaping on the 0.67-acre level property. The large fenced yard has room for a pool. It has mature trees, which offer great privacy especially for a house in the village.
The entire parcel is enclosed by a white picket fence with a decorative wrought iron gate depicting grapevines and bunches of grapes. A bluestone path leads to the covered, wraparound front porch with arches and columns. The paneled front door is framed by decorative sidelights and transom.
Real Estate Listings
Inside, the center hall is spacious and its flooring arranged in a simple pattern. The formal living room has a fireplace with a decorative mantel featuring fluted columns. The wood flooring around this hearth is also interestingly positioned for visual affect. The banquet-sized formal dining room features two built-in corner china cabinets capped with arches and a keystone, a fireplace, chair railing and a mural on the upper walls depicting this house and Southport Harbor. There is also a door that leads to the side of the wraparound porch.
The gourmet kitchen features a coffered ceiling, custom cabinetry with EZ close drawers, two-inch thick honed Carrera marble counter tops, a large center island with a breakfast bar and wine refrigerator, eat-in area, quarter-sawn wide plank wood floors and a built-in desk area. New appliances include a Wolf range with a pot-filler and Miele dishwasher.
On the second level, the hardwood floor of the master bedroom suite is also arranged in a pattern. There are six bedrooms in total.
House of the Week
TYPE: Antique Colonial
ADDRESS: 14 Willow St.
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 13
FEATURES: easy walk to Southport Harbor, Southport Village, train station and Pequot Library; restored historic house in Southport Historic District; 0.67-acre level property; corner lot; large wrap-around covered porch; patio; three fireplaces; nine-foot ceilings; central vacuum system; audio system; Ethernet cabling to the third floor; storm windows; Thermopane windows; new hybrid water heater; main gas line was upgraded; new cedar roof on house and garage; exterior lighting; sprinkler system; wood shingle roof; shed; detached three-car garage; room for a pool, six bedrooms; four full and two half baths
SCHOOLS: Mill Hill Elementary, Roger Ludlowe Middle, Fairfield Ludlowe High
TAX RATE: 24.79 mills
For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house contact the On the Harbor Team at Al Filippone Associates, William Raveis Real Estate at 203-258-1595.