Real estate: A Craftsman cottage, part of Cedar Gate in Darien
Published 4:45 pm, Saturday, January 8, 2011
Originally part of the Delafield estate in Darien, Cedar Gate, established in 1910, has 40 rolling wooded acres and winding roads, and by 1935 had some 25 homes in a wide variety of styles. The first house, "Wayside," was built by Frank Wright for the Gerrit Smith family as a summer home. Gerrit Smith, a professor of sacred music at Union Theological Seminary, was also choirmaster of the South Dutch Reformed Church. Mrs. Smith, the first woman member of the Real Estate Board of New York, was known for her work not only in Manhattan but in the development of the Tokeneke area in Darien.
Between 1859 and 1865, Dr. Edward Delafield assembled a 154-acre estate, originally called Delafield Farm. Edward, a distinguished physician, was a surgeon in the U.S. Army and then founded the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, with Dr. J. Kearny Rodgers. Later an attending physician at New York Hospital and St. Luke's, he became professor of obstetrics and diseases of women and children at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and served as its president as well as president of the board of governors of Roosevelt Hospital.
The doctor and his wife died in 1879, and their son, Dr. Francis Delafield, equally distinguished in the field of medicine, inherited the property. Francis, was also a graduate of Yale and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was appointed to the staff of Bellevue and Roosevelt Hospitals and as chair of pathology and the practice of medicine of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was also the first president of the Association of American Physicians and Pathologists.
Francis' sister, Emma, looked after the property for a number of years after his death and in 1921, it went to Francis' only son, Edward Henry, a 1902 Yale graduate.
After the stock market crash in 1929, Edward Henry began to subdivide and sell off the land, calling it variously Delafield Wood, Delafield Estates and, finally, Delafield Island.
A Craftsman cottage in the Cedar Gate Association, has a bi-level steep shed roof with a cut-out for a statuesque birch tree. The roof tops a charming home of shingle, painted blue, with a front porch supported by four rough-hewn fieldstone pillars. The porch, running along the entire front facade and around one side of the house, has a beadboard ceiling, a stone wall and new indoor-outdoor carpeting.
The triple-paneled front door opens to a living room which has a wood-plank ceiling with heavy beams running overhead, and a rough fieldstone fireplace that runs to the ceiling. An inscription on the mantel appears to read "East, west. Name's best," according to the present owner, or more likely, "East, west. Hame's best." Hame is the word for "home" in the old Scots language.
The living room is open to a large dining area with built-in corner shelves, and both have random-width plank floors. There's a sunburst window to one side of the dining area, and high paneling with a plate rail on top lines the walls of the two rooms.
An adjoining family room, once the dining room, has a built-in corner cupboard and custom-made cabinets, with a wine cooler around the corner. Again, beams cross the ceiling as they do in the nearby office that is part-paneled and has a floor crafted of dark wood with linear insets in a lighter tone.
The newly remodeled kitchen has granite countertops, part-granite backsplashes and white paneled cabinets with black wrought-iron hinges and knobs, To one side is a tall painted brick niche that holds an electric stove top, and to one side is a bar. A stack washer and dryer is hidden here, and there's a walk-in pantry.
A Dutch door opens to a back deck that overlooks a fenced-in play area and the woods. The deck boasts an outdoor TV viewing area with custom "housing" for a cable-satellite hookup and an adjustable wall mounting for the TV, according to Joanne Thomas of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in Darien who has listed the house in the mid-$800,000 range.
The powder room has a concrete sink and backsplash custom-cast by Redding artisan, Mark Cheung of Artezens, who now offers the sink to clients.
The main stairway, paneled to the ceiling, leads to three upstairs double bedrooms, a new white-tiled bath and a walk-in closet that, with a dormer, might become another bath. The master bedroom has built-in cabinets under the 10-pane windows and the eaves, as do the other bedrooms.
The solid wooden doors on this level hint of their age in their horizontal banding.
Outside, a stone wall to the rear of the .25 acre property has an embedded dagger with a green patina that remains a mystery to the owners. A one-car garage sits to one side, with an adjoining, fenced parking space.
The exterior of the house and the garage were recently painted, and the roof and gutters are new. The walls of the walk-up attic have a new drywall covering, and floors in the office, kitchen and powder room are of new hardwood.
Within the basement are the old fieldstone foundations and a workshop.