Frank S. Child, one of the founders of the Fairfield Historical Society, immortalized the antique Colonial house at 480 Old Post Road in two of his publications: "A Country Parish," published in 1911, and the 1899 book "The House with Sixty Closets." Sixty-three closets, to be exact, according to a letter written by one of its residents.

"Someone must have had a mania for closets, for there were 63 of them of every size, shape and kind," Caroline Rankin Ayer wrote in 1904. Ayer was the daughter of the Rev. Edward E. Rankin, then pastor of First Church Congregational at the corner of Old Post and Beach roads. He moved his family into the house, known as the Sherman Parsonage, in 1866.

The Judge Roger Minot Sherman House was built in the post-colonial or Federal style in 1816 by Sherman, the nephew of Roger Sherman, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. According to a 1961 document, written by S.C. Whitaker, the cost to build the house then was $15,000 and it was "the largest and most impressive house in Fairfield at the time," befitting a man of his social and professional stature.

Roger Minot Sherman, who died in 1844, was a lay theologian who bequeathed the house to the First Church Congregational of Fairfield to be used as a parsonage after his wife Elizabeth died. She passed away four years after he did, and the house served as the parsonage from 1848 until 1950.

Ayer was only 11 years old when the Rankins took up residence in the 4,986-square-foot house and she must have been overwhelmed by the number of rooms as well as the closets. She wrote that the plain and simple exterior view of the house "hardly prepared one by its appearance for the many rooms within." In addition to the usual living areas the house had a bread room where flour was kept and "where bread, cakes and pies were made," the milk room, and the well room, which had a sink and pump.

Several decades and renovations later the square footage remains the same, but the house is down to 12 rooms and only 40 closets. Whitaker's document said many of the closets were combined into rooms. One is large enough that it is currently used as the wrapping paper room. The library and study were combined to create one large room in the north wing.

Real Estate Listings

Most of those rooms are quite large and hold as much history as they do refined period details and amenities for today's living and entertaining. It has three staircases, five bedrooms, and nine fireplaces -- three of them with ornate mantels of Italian black marble with yellow veining.

All this and convenience, too. The house sits on a level and sloping parcel of just over one-half acre, a good size for a downtown property. Its location makes it an easy walk to the downtown train station, restaurants, town offices, library and shops. The house is also walking distance to town beaches but far enough away from Long Island Sound that flood insurance is not necessary, according to the real estate agent.

This stately New England Colonial has a long front veranda, supported by Doric columns and one Ionic column, which serves as a front-row seat for the town's annual Memorial Day parade. The front entrance has a wide front door and elliptical fan light and sidelights in the McIntyre style with decorative leaded glass. The six-over-six double-hung windows have unusually large panes. There are tall, dark green shutters.

More Information

ABOUT THIS HOUSE
TYPE: Antique Colonial
ADDRESS: 480 Old Post Road
PRICE: $1,649,000
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 13
FEATURES: historic house, walking distance to local beaches and downtown train station, walk to restaurants and shops, 0.58-acre level and sloping property, invisible fencing, sunroom, wood deck, bluestone patio, nine fireplaces, three staircases, professional landscaping with mature plantings, perennial gardens, fieldstone foundation, five bedrooms, three full and one-half baths
SCHOOLS: Roger Sherman Elementary, Roger Ludlowe Middle, Fairfield Ludlowe High schools
ASSESSMENT: $999,180
TAX RATE: 24.4 mills
TAXES: $24,380

Inside, there are gracefully curved walls, arched entries from one room to the next, and curved staircase with a velvet rope railing against the wall that Whitaker suspects is original to the house. There are two large front parlors on opposite sides of the center hall foyer, both with high ceilings. The current residents use one as a music room. Citing page 154 of "Old Houses of Connecticut," Whitaker mentions that the Shermans ordered velvet Wilton rugs from England for those two parlors and when they arrived the rugs were too long by seven feet each. Rather than shorten the rugs the Shermans apparently constructed additions to both wings of the house, lengthening the parlors to accommodate the rugs.

The rugs were also mentioned in Child's book, "The House with Sixty Closets," subtitled "A Christmas Story for Young Folks and Old Children." "Her parlor carpet was made in England. The Judge had it made to order; so you may believe it was uncommonly fine," Child wrote in the story.

The kitchen has an eat-in area with a sliding door to a sun porch, which has access to a wood deck and backyard.

On the second floor the original pine floorboards of varying widths still are in place. Pine boards on the first floor were replaced with hardwood. There are five bedrooms. The two front bedrooms have each has a fireplace with a wood mantel. "The rest of the upstairs is very unornamented and utilitarian," according to Whitaker's document, although, since writing that the baths were updated. The master bath has a white marble tile floor, pale blue marble on the double vanity and a steam shower.

Despite the vintage nature of this house it is updated for modern living and contains a high-end HVAC system, updated wiring, new roof and the house was converted from oil to gas heat, even as period details were protected.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Jackie Davis of William Raveis at 203-258-9912 or email her at Jackie.davis@raveis.com.

ABOUT THIS HOUSE

TYPE: Antique Colonial

ADDRESS: 480 Old Post Road

PRICE: $1,649,000

NUMBER OF ROOMS: 13

FEATURES: historic house, walking distance to local beaches and downtown train station, walk to restaurants and shops, 0.58-acre level and sloping property, invisible fencing, sunroom, wood deck, bluestone patio, nine fireplaces, three staircases, professional landscaping with mature plantings, perennial gardens, fieldstone foundation, five bedrooms, three full and one half baths

SCHOOLS: Roger Sherman Elementary, Roger Ludlowe Middle, Fairfield Ludlowe High schools

ASSESSMENT: $999,180

TAX RATE: 24.4 mills

TAXES: $24,380