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Wednesday, December 13 Real Estate

In Westport, an antique house where roots run deep

WESTPORT — At least 12 families have called the house at 79 Coleytown Road home.

Even so, the circa-1820 home has retained its antique charm. Older than the town itself, the house has been privy to the lives of some of Westport’s most illustrious homeowners, starting with its namesake, John Gray.

“He was the son of original Bankside farmers, who were the founding family of Westport,” said Patricia Prenderville, a listing agent with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

“For most owners it’s been a weekend house because it’s super private and it has all the toys — a pool, the tennis court, river frontage,” Prenderville said. “But everyone who’s been here has worked to preserve and protect it.”

Town records show the original 18-acre property was deeded to the family in 1785, though the house wasn’t completed for several decades. As a result, the plaque on the front reads “John Gray House, 1820.” Unlike many antiques, the home features large rooms and high ceilings, created as owners have renovated through the years.

“It’s been opened up to the open floor plan people are looking for these days,” Prenderville said. “It’s got a lot of flexibility.”

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Though the home is very much an antique with wide-plank floors, plaster walls and original doors, modern bathrooms and a renovated kitchen were added by the current owner. It is time to update some of the added features, but Prenderville said the current owners, who are downsizing, decided to leave that to the vision of the next owner.

“What you’re getting for the price is a lot,” Prenderville said. “The next owner can leave their mark on it.”

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Do you know of a house or apartment building with an interesting story? Contact kkrasselt@thehour.com, and the home could be featured in an upcoming installment of Habitat.

The highlight of the home isn’t an original feature. Through a set of double doors, off the end-to-end parlor, a huge covered deck looks out over the 2-acre property where stone pathways weave through gardens to the pool. The tennis court, which is in need of resurfacing and repair but is grandfathered into the property, is beyond the pool, on the way to the Aspetuck River which makes up the rear boundary of the property. The property abuts the Newman-Poses Preserve, which will never be developed, creating privacy and space.

Sara Karasne, co-chair of the archives at Westport Historical Society, said even with necessary renovation to modernize an antique house, the preservation of homes like the John Gray House is essential to the character of Westport.

“It’s our mission to preserve Westport’s history for the next generation,” she said. “Without preservation our children and the children after them won’t be able to understand what Westport is really all about.”

The listing price of $1.8 million is higher than the neighborhood average, but does come with significant land value and amenities. The property next door, 81 Coleytown Road, is also for sale for $3 million. That house is the former stable for the main house at 79 Coleytown.

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Despite its charm, Prenderville said finding a buyer — as with most antiques — will be difficult in a market where most people aren’t looking for a project.

“The buyer of market has really changed. There was a time when antiques were incredibly desirable. There was a love of history. But the modern buyer is busy. They want the house to be ready for them, so it’s a little harder to find the right buyer now.”

Even so, she said the home is appealing to weekenders for its convenience and privacy. It’s also garnered significant interest from European homebuyers, who are interested in the antique history of the home.

“An antique is not for everyone, but the taxes are very low considering,” Prenderville said. “I think it will go to a veteran home buyer, not a first-timer. They understand what it takes to run a house and they don’t need it to look like everybody else. They want something unique.”

kkrasselt@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2563; @kaitlynkrasselt

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