The Stephen Mather Homestead is a little bit different than most other Darien homes. No open concept kitchen, no new flooring, no geothermal heat and central air, no energy efficient LED lighting. The homestead goes beyond needing a little updating, in that HGTV sense of the word. And yet, no one would ever change a thing about this piece of history in Darien. And now that it has become a historic landmark, no one ever will.

•  Official ceremony: Darien’s historic Stephen Mather homestead now town museum

The Darien Times recently got an exclusive tour of the homestead thanks to Anna Denoyer. executive director of the Mather Homestead. The sprawling property shimmered in the sunshine along with the gardens. Denoyer is hoping to return the gardens, which  are overlooked by the open air porch, to their former beauty with some community help.

The Homestead was built during the Revolutionary War in 1778 by the Mather family. The Mather family’s ancestors include Cotton and Increase Mather of colonial Boston.

During the Revolutionary War, the house served as a safe house for neighbors to hide valuables from the British. It eventually became the home of Stephen Tyng Mather, who is credited with starting the U.S. National Park Service and serving as its first director from 1917 to 1929.

Though Mather’s family had New England roots, he was born in California and attended private school in San Francisco and the University of California. He worked as a reporter for the New York Sun until 1893 before leaving to make his fortune in a borax company.

The Homestead is also a prime example of late 18th century houses and was designated as a historic landmark on Nov. 27, 1963.

Mather’s daughter, Bertha Floy Mather McPherson, founded the Darien Historical Society in 1953 and served as its first president.

The Homestead has been owned by members of the Mather family for many generations, and is currently owned by three members of the family. The Mather family previously owned two open fields at the corners of Stephen Mather Road and Brookside Road. Several years ago, the fields were conveyed to the Darien Land Trust and are maintained as open fields.

More info: www.matherhomestead.org or 917-488-1778