On the Market: Westport estate features a wine cellar turned bomb shelter

WESTPORT — In the late 1930s, John B. Warnock, a successful Brooklyn businessman who’d made his fortune in the sugar business, bought several parcels on North Avenue, assembling a 26-acre family compound to share with his wife and his two married daughters.

Warnock and his wife set up housekeeping in the existing Wisteria Court and his daughter, Evelyn Zinke, and her family built a home called Pippin Hill, according to a history written by Carol Randel, of the Westport Historical Society.

The younger daughter, Arline, and her family built the home at 5 Northside Lane, dubbing it Staffordshire Hall, the history states.

Visscher and Burley — a notable New York architectural firm that had designed estates in Fairfield County, several buildings at Lehigh University and Norwalk High School — took on the project, creating the stately home from stone quarried right on the property.

The architects drew inspiration from Montpelier, James Madison’s Virginia residence.

One of its more unusual features was in the basement. Arline’s husband, Donald Strachan, was a lawyer who had served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and saw action in World War I, Randel wrote.

“One of the ways the military concerns of Strachan was felt in the design is that he converted what was to be the wine cellar into a steel-lined bomb shelter,” Randel wrote.

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ABOUT THIS HOUSE

STYLE: Colonial/European

ADDRESS: 5 Northside Lane, Westport

PRICE: $3,250,000

NUMBER OF ROOMS: 11

FEATURES: European-style estate on 2.73 acres with five bedrooms, in-ground pool with fountains and spa, balcony, French doors, fruit trees, fireplaces, hardwood inlaid floors, chandeliers, butler's pantry, patio, central air, security system and three-car garage

SCHOOLS: Coleytown, Bedford, Staples

ASSESSMENT: $1,276,300

MILL RATE: 16.710

TAXES: $21,326

In 1952, the Strachans sold the home to Barbara and Stanley Joseloff, the parents of Gordon Joseloff, the Emmy-winning journalist and former Westport First Selectman. A later resident was radio broadcaster Win Elliott, the voice of the New York Rangers, Randel wrote.

The house is arguably one of Westport’s most important estates, said listing agent Julia Broder of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

There’s “nothing like it in Westport,” she said. “The construction and quality of this residence cannot be replaced — from the grand architecture to all the native stone mined on this land for the house by Italian masons.”

The massive entrance hall/living room creates a strong impression anchored as it is by a stone fireplace and sporting hardwood inlaid floors, chandeliers and other architectural highlights. The dining room features ornate details and a butler’s pantry leading to the designer eat-in kitchen in neo-Classical style with all updated appliances.

A study/library offers a wet bar and built-ins and opens to the family room with a native stone fireplace. Outside is a patio overlooking the in-ground pool with fountains and a spa.

The primary bedroom suite features a marble bath with spa amenities, a walk-in closet and sitting room as well as a balcony overlooking the grounds and pool. Four additional bedrooms and two full baths and a laundry room complete the second floor.

The walk-out lower level offers another laundry room and a living space with kitchen that could accommodate an au pair, in-laws ,or provide a pool cabana area.

This house is on the market for $3.25 million.

For details contact Julia Broder of Coldwell Banker Real Estate at 203-247-7500 or Julia.broder@cbmoves.com.