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THIS IS THE GENUINE ARTICLE for old-house fanatics — a true Colonial from the 1720s, when Connecticut was an actual colony. It looks to my eye like Dutch-style architecture, with that gambrel roof shape.
It’s on six-tenths of an acre in a National Register Historic District, in Rocky Hill, central Connecticut, with a bit of a river view. At 1,600 square feet plus basement and porch, with three bedrooms and two baths, it’s neither tiny nor overscaled. Just right.
I was alerted to the listing by an email from the National Trust for Historic Preservation site. Their listing says — and to judge by the photos, there’s no reason to doubt it — that the house has original flooring, paneling, plaster, doors, and fireplaces. It all looks startlingly original, like a historic house museum. It also looks like someone took renovations to a certain point, then gave up.
An exterior paint job (love the green) is evidently part of the completed work, along with other major items, including upgraded electrical, structural fixes, new heat, plumbing, an upstairs bathroom, and attic insulation. The work left to do perhaps explains what seems like an awfully low asking price.
The Coldwell Banker listing has 35 photos online.
Anyone besides me think this looks like a great project (for someone else)?
STEPS — NO, REALLY — STEPS TO BEACH. Lots of real estate listings say it. In this case, it’s true. This is the third house in from the water at Maidstone Beach, East Hampton, below, a long sandy crescent on Gardiner’s Bay that I never get tired of touting as the Hamptons’ best-kept secret (actually there are a couple of other equally well-kept secrets, but it’s one of the top three).
The house (at left in photo at top) is a shingled cottage from the 1950s, probably, with a glassed-in front room that probably used to be an open porch, and a garage out back. Two bedrooms, two baths, a working fireplace, and a whole lot of clutter, which I hope you can see through.
It’s been on the market for about two months, which surprises me. I should have thought it would be gone by now.
You can see the listing, with more photos, here.
THE MONTH OF MAY hasn’t been so much merry as schizy (though there have been some undeniably merry moments). I spent the first two weeks of the month saying goodbye to my former home, a vintage cottage in East Hampton, N.Y., enjoying its deck and outdoor shower every chance I got. I gazed into the woods, wondering how I was going to survive without that particular view.
I had one last yard sale, then moved my remaining “staged for sale” furnishings from the cottage to the other house I bought last year — a mid-20th century L-shaped bungalow, below — a quarter-mile away. A few days later, I sold that beloved first cottage, five years and a day after buying it in 2009, and six months after putting it on the market.
It was the first time I ever sold a property (I still own a few; see my About page). Did it feel momentous? Nah. I had experienced all my emotion in anticipation, it turned out. Closings are non-events, I’ve realized. No ceremony, no festivity — just attorneys and a title company rep passing papers back and forth to be signed. No one says congratulations; you’re lucky if get hello and goodbye. Afterwards, I ran to the bank, and then — except for sharing a bottle of champagne with a friend — pretty much forgot about the whole thing. It’s out of my hands now. If the garden on which I worked so hard and long reverts to nature — well, so be it.
Below, views of my “new” house and landscape, as it looked earlier this month:
Now I’m all of a piece — all my things in one house, responsible for only one garden and one Town of East Hampton tax bill. Most significantly, my focus and attention is now in one place. I’ve furnished the rooms comfortably, and I’m doing the best I can to control the indoor climate in my unheated, un-cooled house, alternating space heater and fan as weather demands.
I made a conscious decision to make no decisions for a while — to call no contractors, no deck guys, no guys at all. There are big jobs ahead: replacing the deteriorating deck and installing windows in a long hallway where now there are boarded-up holes, to name two major priorities. But I’m not ready to move on anything quite yet.
Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying my new borrowed view, of dogwoods in the neighboring yard, above, and the rhododendrons have come out, spectacularly, to greet me.
THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE IS OVER. I’m officially in contract to sell my East Hampton, N.Y. cottage, after a long winter of offers, negotiations, anticipation and disappointments. Closing will be on or before May 15 — five years to the day since I bought the house in 2009. My real estate agent and my neighbors think I’m crazy, but I’m still gardening just as I would if I were staying — raking leaves off the perennial beds, top dressing with compost and mulch, pruning winter storm and deer damage.
Sign on David’s Lane, East Hampton
I want to leave the garden in tip-top shape (with no expectations that the new owner will be as OCD as I am). The house and garden have always been primarily a labor of love for me, though I admit to hoping I might be compensated for those labors in dollars someday. That’s not to be the case (no, I didn’t get my twice-reduced asking price), but I’m not changing the sub-title of this blog. I still believe in old-house real estate as an investment. But sellers have to be prepared to wait for the market to cycle round to a favorable position, and I wasn’t able to wait any longer, with House #2, a 1940s modernist ranch in the same community, bought last year, awaiting further renovation.
I’m no longer in need of furnishings for two summer rentals (in fact, I now have four sofas), but I’m still attending yard sales on Fridays and Saturdays just for the fun of it. See below for a photo of my latest acquisition, a set of six vintage wrought iron and wood chairs that are surprisingly comfortable. Do I need them? No, not at all. Do they work with the style of my new/old house? No, they don’t. Was I going to pass them up at $40 for the whole set? Of course not.
I’m also busy sketching ideas for a new deck and new configuration of rooms at House #2. Its renovation will be incremental and low-budget, once again, and will provide abundant blog fodder in months to come. In late winter, I took a five-session “Design Your Own Garden” class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, taught by Jim Russell, who was terrific — he had us all thinking about our gardens in new ways. The T-squares and HB pencils brought me back to my year at architecture school, and I was very happy drawing and erasing away, though I never got as far as spec-ing actual plants, like some of my classmates. I spent almost the entire course on a general landscape concept: organization around three courtyards; as well as possible designs for a new deck and a system of paths.
Though I’ll be there another few weeks, things have now taken on a wistful “last time” feeling over at House #1. Easter Sunday, a friend came for a late lunch on the back deck. We opened a bottle of Prosecco, as we have done many times before, and lay on the chaise longues looking into the woods, talking and laughing, as we have done many times before. Though I’ve been known to profess non-attachment to any house or apartment (having moved four times in the past eight years), this one is hitting me hard. At least it’s well-documented.
NEW YEARS BARGAINS ABOUND on the East End of Long Island, though how much of a bargain this 1/4-acre property in Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) really is remains to be seen. The house may well be a teardown; the “barn-like accessory structure” looks sound, though, and no smaller than the house itself.
The main selling point here is waterfront proximity (though not water view) — it’s just a couple hundred yards to an unspoiled channel off Three Mile Harbor, top, and there’s a small beach at the foot of Folkstone Drive.
The house is on a gravel road, pitted and puddled after recent rains, but you can’t complain about traffic.
Above, the c. 1945 house at right and the newer garage/barn at left.
The door to the house was open, and I walked in. Definite smell of damp. There’s almost certainly been water damage.
It’s a project for the right person/people. I like the idea that you could live in the (unheated) barn while fixing up the house or building a new one. (The barn was locked, so i didn’t see inside, but there are photos of its interior in the linked-to Halstead listing below.) I also like that it’s cheap — down to 300K, and will probably end up selling for even less.
For photos of the house in summer and more shots of the barn (and a startling demonstration of what a sunny day and a wide-angle lens will do for a place), go here for the official listing.