On the Market: Idyllic Darien landmark, originally 1800'S farmhouse; fully renovated
DARIEN — Motorists drive past a familiar Darien landmark every day, and as the antique colonial farmhouse at 173 Middlesex Road comes into view, it serves as a comforting reminder of the town’s agricultural past. For preservationists, it serves as a shining example of how a historic house can be preserved, while it is also made relevant for contemporary living without altering its outward appearance.
It is still “the house everybody knows at the intersection,” the listing agent said. The Waterbury House was built in the 19th century on a corner lot along Middlesex and Hollow Tree Ridge roads. It belonged to Azariah Waterbury, a local Quaker, who left it to his second wife, Sarah, and their four children.
Jump ahead a century and a half, when the farmhouse was renovated extensively over a two-year period, extending the living space to 4,040 square feet and giving it many new features. The house received new plumbing and wiring in many rooms, a new roof, new and rebuilt flooring, new irrigation system, new driveway and new extra-large half-round gutters. The exterior siding is new, and the interior and exterior were painted.
The work was completed in 2016. With all its updates, this might as well be new construction. From the exterior the house still looks much as it did when it was first built in 1856, and its historic heritage, charm and character are intact. In essence, what the architect and contractors re-created is a traditional home with a decidedly contemporary flair.
Throughout its history the house has made an impact on past owners and their children who grew up under its roof. Often they stop to leave notes for the current owners, offering some detail about the house. Some of them ring the doorbell, and if the owners are home, the former residents are invited in for a visit. If the owners are not home, some of the former residents, who live out of town or out of state, mention when they will next be in Darien and request a tour.
Those lucky enough to get the tour find this is a house designed for “family-centric living” and modern life, according to the listing agent. There is an easy, open flow from one spacious room to the next, yet each room is well defined. Rooms were reconfigured during the renovation project. What had been the family room is now the formal dining room. The original dining room is now a walk-in pantry.
The house sits on a 1.27-acre level property bordered by a perimeter fieldstone wall. A vintage red barn stands in the rear yard. For many years there was a horse riding ring in the sizable front yard, but that was eliminated about 15 years ago.
At the covered and columned front entrance into the house there is a separate door into a wrap-around sun porch. The porch was originally open and later enclosed. It can also be accessed from the formal living room, where there is a marble fireplace with a decorative mantel and wainscoting on the lower walls. There is a door to a small playroom and access to an office with a sliding door to a large IPE wood deck with lighting in the stairs and wiring for outdoor speakers. The office has a paneled wall with decorative crown molding.
In the gourmet kitchen the many features include honed Piertra Cardosa counters, white glass subway tile backsplash, custom cabinetry, a hardwood floor, top-of-the-line appliances — including a Thermador four-burner range with griddle, and a large center island topped in a beautiful piece of maple — one large slab from one tree. The eat-in area has a built-in banquette with leatherette cushioning. The family room, which is open to the kitchen, has a fireplace and sliding doors to the deck. The mudroom has a built-in window seat, closets with leather strap handles, cubbies, benches, half bath and a door to the backyard and a flagstone patio.
On the second floor there are four bedrooms. The fifth bedroom is in the full, partially finished lower level. The master bedroom suite is in a separate wing and has a wall of built-ins, a window seat, two walk-in closets with organizers, and a marble bath with a free-standing soaking tub, shower and radiant heat floor. Two of the other bedrooms are en suite. Laundry facilities are on this level, but there are two other places in the house that can accommodate laundry.
The lower level was excavated to provide tall ceilings. This level has an exercise area, media room, full bath and the guest bedroom.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Colonial farmhouse
ADDRESS: 173 Middlesex Road
FEATURES: red barn, 1.27-acre level property, corner lot, bluestone patio, 650-square-foot IPE wood deck, close to town amenities, walking distance to the Metro-North Noroton train station, walking distance to the middle and high schools, Thermopane windows, most windows were replaced, new irrigation system, exercise area, two fireplaces, walk-up attic, full partially finished basement, professionally landscaped property, fenced vegetable garden, perimeter stone wall, five bedrooms, four full and one half baths.
SCHOOLS: Royle Elementary, Middlesex Middle, Darien High
MILL RATE: 15.77 mills