Pre-Revolutionary War Darien home tied to Selleck family
DARIEN — Revolutionary War actors dusted off their muskets this week in honor of the day America declared independence 242 years ago.
However accurate the reenactments, it goes without saying that world around them has changed, and Connecticut looked pretty different back then. But if you want a hint as to what the area may have been like, a handful of homes predating the Revolutionary War still exist, including one that’s now on the market — 21 Old Farm Road in Darien (yours for $2,395,000).
The home, along with three others on the street, belonged to the Selleck family, a name that may sound familiar to those who’ve been to Selleck’s Woods in Darien or Selleck streets in Norwalk and Stamford.
John and Jonathan Selleck were among Stamford’s first colonial settlers. The brothers arrived in the late 1600s, married into land and eventually came to own a good chunk of what is now Stamford and Darien by fighting Native Americans and trading by sea. Written documents accuse the younger brother, John Selleck, of helping famed pirate William Kidd smuggle goods into New York.
That accumulated land was passed down to descendants. Jonathan’s grandson, Nathan Selleck, built the homes along Old Farm Road for himself and his children a century after the Sellecks first arrived. By that time, tensions between the British and the colonies were spiraling toward war. The Darien Historical Society dates 21 Old Farm Road back to 1765, the year the Stamp Act was passed, taxing everything from newspapers to playing cards and spurring protests of taxation without representation.
Inside, touches of the original home still stand, most noticeably a giant hearth at the heart of the building. On one side of the fireplace, a brick-lined dome is hollowed into the wall — known as a beehive oven, it was used for baking bread.
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John Hare, whose family has owned the home for nearly 50 years, can vouch for its functionality.
“We did have a pizza party in the beehive oven,” he said. “It was fantastic.”
Of course, the 4,519-square-foot house has also been updated throughout the years. Expansions in three directions have resulted in a remarkably modern-feeling open layout. On the ground floor, a kitchen opens into the dining room and living room on the way to stairs; the floor also includes a half bath, a sun room and a guest room with its own bathroom.
Downstairs, there’s a finished basement with its own fireplace and baking oven (in total, five fireplaces are serviced by the home’s one chimney), and upstairs, there are four more bedrooms, each filled with light and all but one featuring its own bathroom. What is now set up as a children’s room fits two beds and sports a built-in desk fancifully decorated with National Geographic maps. In the master suite, pastels pervade — the bathroom is fitted with a skylight and a Tiffany-blue toilet, sink and bathtub. From the master bathroom, a window overlooks a sparkling pool and an expansive back lawn — the grounds include 1.6 open acres.
Those acres are home to perennial gardens and a number of impressive trees, including one Hare says can produce 1,000 edible pears a year. There are two stone patios, and a small building next to the pool functions as a detached garage with two changing rooms on the side and a wood-paneled office space above.
Though the home’s exterior has changed over the centuries, holdovers from another time reside outside as well. A sycamore that has grown through the stone fence separating the home from the street has been listed in Darien’s Historic Tree Inventory as noteworthy in its own right; the land across the street is owned by the Darien Land Trust, which has pledged to preserve and protect the open space.
“That’s my favorite part,” said John Bainton, the real estate professional showing the home. “The serenity of this lot. It’s such a beautiful, tranquil, flat lot in the middle of Tokeneke, filled with history.”