‘No place like home’: Dilapidated Darien house gets dressed up for Halloween before demolition
DARIEN — There’s no place like home, or so a new downtown art project proclaims.
A house in Darien destined for demolition is going out with a bang thanks to a mural created by Norwalk artist Brian Kaspr.
Kaspr, who also created the “Love Abundantly” mural on Post Road by Green and Tonic over the summer, recently painted the house at 34 Old Kings Highway South in vibrant neon colors.
The house is part of the larger Corbin District downtown construction project and is expected to be demolished at the end of November. Kaspr previously did a mural on a house to be demolished on Post Road.
Darien resident Tierre Hessert, a neighbor of the house Kaspr originally painted on Post Road, introduced him to David Genovese, head of Baywater Properties, which owns the Green and Tonic property and is heading The Corbin District project.
At the time of the “Love Abundantly” mural, Hessert said she loved the message on the house mural, “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” because it was a conversation piece.
“When he did the house, all the neighbors were talking about it,” she said. “They were riding their bikes to go see it. I think it’s just a great way to bond the community and have people gather in a place and appreciate a fun message and a cool piece of art.”
Kaspr and Genovese had been discussing doing another mural when they realized the Old Kings Highway South home would create the perfect backdrop.
“I said, ‘time is running out and it’s starting to get cold.’ That’s when David realized he had a house that was going to be demolished, and it clicked,” Kaspr said.
“This was the beginning of October, so it came together really quickly,” he said.
The actual painting began on Oct. 24, and it took Kaspr about 18 hours to complete.
At first, Kaspr said he intended to do another mural with a pinkish tone, but then realized Halloween would be a better theme considering the timing.
This project, much like his other two, also has a written message: “There’s no place like home,” adorns the side and back of the house.
Why the Wizard of Oz quote?
“Because we’re all at home,” Kaspr said.
“I wanted to include a quote about home and landed on that Wizard of Oz quote. It’s a nice sentiment at any time of the year, but especially right now. Being home safe and with our family — it’s not a great time, but that is a silver lining,” Kaspr said.
“Staying at home isn’t as bad as it could be,” he said.
Genovese is supportive “not only of me, but of the arts, as well as creating some buzz in the town and getting people excited and outside.”
Genovese said part of his motivation was that “this is such a different Halloween for kids. We wanted to do something fun for them.”
He said The Corbin District received so much positive feedback for the “Love Abundantly,” that they wanted to do another project.
Along with the house painting, The Corbin District and the Chamber of Commerce have launched a social media contest. Visitors of the house who post their creative photos on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, or any social media and tag @TheCorbinDistrict and the Chamber of Commerce will be eligible for a raffle. Several TikTok entries have already been posted.
At the end of the campaign, an adult and a youth winner will be chosen. A youth winner will receive a year’s worth of Playa Bowls and the adult will receive a gift certificate for lunch for two and two treatments at Darien’s Williams & Co.
The house will be lit by black lights on Halloween starting at 6 p.m. and The Front Steps Project will kick off the second phase of Corbin Cares.
Corbin Cares was launched during the pandemic in partnership with local retailers and nonprofits to feed health care workers on the front lines, the food insecure, seniors at the Darien Senior Center and Darien families in need.
The Front Steps Project includes photographers Katharine Calderwood, Ben Larrabee, Bambi Reigel and Mary Wade, who will take family photos at the haunted house to benefit the second phase of Corbin Cares.