Mary Palmieri Gai, Broker
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties
Representing Buyers and Sellers of Real Estate in Lower Fairfield County
Award Winning and Top Producing Real Estate Agent.
Email at MaryGai@Bhhsne.com
"Exceeding your highest expectations"
Before central heating, there were those folks who knew that building a house of stone made it warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The stones would become warm from the heat of the fireplace and would warm up circulating air keeping the entire space warm during cold New England days and nights. And if you can't be in a house with central air, the next best thing is a solid stone house. They stay amazingly cool.
Most stone houses today have wood frames and stone veneers. They're gorgeous but stone houses that were the first *green* buildings were those that were stone through to the interior such as those built in the 1600s and still stand in New Paltz, New York, where the Hugenots settled.
Stone houses are vanishing, especially in Connecticut. A house that I listed in Belle Haven, Greenwich was a solid granite house built in the Gilded Age in 1886. It was collapsing under its own weight and was torn down by the buyers who purchased it for over 10 million. It's tough for me to see a stone house come down but it must be considered that many antique homes, including stone houses, are functionally obsolete with low ceiling height, poor floor plans and small kitchens and baths.
The esteemed local architect, developer and builder who was active in lower Fairfield County during the late1920s, 1930s and early 40s, was a lover of the stone house. There are lovely stone houses dotting Westport, Weston, Wilton, Norwalk and New Canaan that are his designs. They're unmistakeable once you understand his architecture. He studied in Europe and came back with an appreciation for homes that were built hundreds of years ago. He wanted to capture the essence of homes in the European countryside; ones that had been added onto to accomodate growing familes and generations. He wanted them to maintain that country cottage look. He went so far as to import French Clay for an exterior finish that he used a few times on projects, one of which was at Valley Road in Westport. He did use wood exterior on some homes as well and sometimes a combination of materials.
FRAZIER PETERS continued
Frazier Peters loved the Connecticut countryside because It reminded him of Europe. He usually looked for building sites that were not flat, that had were near streams or rivers, and had rock outcroppings or ledge. Because he often built on ledge, his basements were not a priority. They were utilitarian only, housing the heating system and wiring boxes. He loved old beams so he did try to use recycled beams from dismantled buildings. They were usually hand hewn even if they were new.
Many of his floor plans centered around a great room with a stone fireplace. He often had arched doorways, narrow staircases, and bedrooms that radiated off central living spaces. His kitchens were utiltarian and were often small and tucked into a corner.
There was almost always an outbuilding or two, with at least one apartment attached to the outbuilding or over the garage which was usually detached.
Most owners of Frazier Peters homes cherish them and they are sought after. His own home was on Charcoal Hill in Westport where there are a cluster of his homes still standing and there are several in Old Hill in Westport and on Dogwood Lane in Westport. I don't think Mr. Peters would have ever realized the impact he had on the charm of Fairfield County. Thanks to him, every once in awhile, you'll think you're in Europe.