On the Market / First Selectman’s ‘family’ house hits the market
DARIEN — The Harvard Five have influenced the architectural landscape of New Canaan and countless careers in this field, which requires creativity, mathematical skills, and in this day and age knowledge of science and sustainability.
“We are always looking to do more energy-efficient, environmentally sensitive and durable buildings. We continue to expand our repertoire, learning from experts in building science, and teaming with clients and builders who share this priority,” Amanda Martocchio says on her website. The New Canaan architect is one of the countless people whose career choice was inspired by the Harvard Five, and one of her commissions - the custom contemporary house at 65 St. Nicholas Road, was influenced by the work of Philip Johnson.
It wasn’t built in the middle of the 20th century so it doesn’t fit the technical definition of a mid-century modern; that is a house of a particular style built between 1933 and 1965. So it will just have to live with the label “millennial masterpiece” designed by Martocchio and built by Prutting & Company Custom Builders of Stamford.
This 7,500-square-foot, International Design award-winning house was built in 2006 on one of Darien’s highest points. It is owned by First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and her husband John, who said this one-of-a-kind structure is meant to be a family house rather than an architectural “museum.” It is the home in which they raised their five children and now, as they are about to become empty nesters the couple is looking to downsize in another Darien home.
“It lives well. It’s comfortable, like an old shoe,” Jayme Stevenson said. And yet, at 11 years old it also seems newly constructed.
Jayme Stevenson said she was more of a traditionalist in home design until she went on a house tour and “I fell in love with a Philip Johnson house.” It was not the famed Glass House in neighboring New Canaan, but rather was constructed of brick. “Amanda has a classically mid-century modern aesthetic. Her skill, combined with elements of the Philip Johnson architecture, informed this house,” Stevenson said.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Custom Contemporary
ADDRESS: 65 St. Nicholas Road
FEATURES: 2.43-acre level property, Energy Star-rated home, active and passive solar systems, radiant heat throughout, High R-rated thermal windows, spray foam insulation, renewable materials, generator, audio system, three fireplaces, balcony, rooftop deck, patio, professional landscaping, sprinkler system, located on a cul-de-sac, minutes from downtown and train station, easy access to the Merritt Parkway, attached three-car garage, rubber roof, underground cistern for rainwater collection, wine room, cedar closet, partially finished basement, five bedrooms (all en-suite), five full and two half baths
SCHOOLS: Royle Elementary, Middlesex Middle, Darien High School
MILL RATE: 16.16 mills
The visual appeal of this house is created by a series of mahogany, stone and glass geometric boxes with bluestone that cantilever from the spine of this statement home. Abundant amounts of floor-to-ceiling glass bring views of the outdoors inside and attract ample amounts of natural light.
The Energy Star-rated home sits on a 2.43-acre level property and is positioned to take advantage of seasonal views of Long Island Sound. The sustainable green home features active and passive solar systems and a majority of its building materials were locally sourced from within a 500-mile radius.
The five bedroom house has bio-fuel burning high-efficiency boilers. Rainwater is recycled through an internal rain gutter system that captures rainwater in a 1,500-gallon underground cistern. Space-saver joists were made from recycled steel rather than from engineered wood that contains volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and in fact no VOC paints were used on the walls or anywhere in this house. A five-kilowatt solar system provides about 25-percent of electricity needs and fuels a 24-hour battery generator in the event of a power outage.
The passive solar system takes advantage of solar gain from the sun to heat the house, augmenting the radiant heated flooring throughout the house, which also heat this residence. The rubber roof is painted white to deflect heat, which saves on air conditioning costs in warm weather months. All the Class R windows have electronic shades. Compared to its size it is an inexpensive house to operate, Stevenson said.
A carpet of lush green grass hides the paving stone driveway underneath, creating an invisible forecourt that allows many vehicles to be parked on the property during large gatherings of family and friends without damaging the grounds.
The house has three fireplaces; a wood-burning one in the two-story living room and gas fireplaces in the library and in the master bedroom suite. There are five bedrooms, one of which is on the first floor. The living and dining rooms have several over-sized sliding doors to the large bluestone terrace. The first floor powder room features an onyx counter. A flexible-use room is currently serving as a gym but could be a family room or music room. It has a slate floor and doors to the covered portion of the terrace.
Between the second floor office and master suite there is a large deck, which can be accessed from both rooms. A large space off that deck has been designed to serve as a rooftop garden.
It’s not just the house and its private setting that make this such a special place to live. This cul-de-sac is a true neighborhood. Residents host a Fourth of July bike parade for the children who live on this street and make sure there is a real festive feel at Christmas, considering the name of the street.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Charlett Stevenson and Sara Franzese of Houlihan Lawrence; Stevenson at 203-644-6547 or CStevenson@HoulihanLawrence.com and Franzese at 203-803-7003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.