Weston home has strong history in children's literature

Newly constructed contemporary farmhouse at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Newly constructed contemporary farmhouse at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Contributed photo / Nicki Chavoya

WESTON — Morton Schindel purchased a 1930s “ramshackle” log-and-stone cabin “in very bad shape on an unpaved road,” in Weston back in 1950.

In fact, in a short film titled “Morton Schindel: The Story of Weston Woods,” produced by the Weston Historical Society, Schindel said the structure at 58 Weston Woods Way was characterized by a building inspector as “the biggest no-bedroom house” he had ever seen, and Schindel was encouraged to “bulldoze down the stone and logs (of the main house and cottage) and start from scratch.”

Formal dining room at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Formal dining room at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Contributed photo / Nicki Chavoya

“I wasn’t about to do that,” Schindel said in the film. He saw both buildings’ flaws and imagined their promise.

“I fell in love with the place,” said Schindel, a pioneer in children’s literature who transformed hundreds of children’s books from their pages to film at the Weston Woods Institute, the writing/publishing/artist retreat that he founded on this bucolic 2.28-acre property with a large koi pond and stream.

If the new owners listen carefully enough between the birdsong and breezes gently wending through the branches of tall trees, they may just hear the voices of James Earl Jones, Meryl Streep and other performing industry luminaries bringing to life those stories, including Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings” and Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Instead of razing the main house, Schindel expanded it and made it “adaptable to the uses that the activities here were developing and at the same time keeping it the way it was … an aesthetic that was terribly pleasing.”

The cottage, originally built in 1936, was renovated and converted into a studio to accommodate the work of the Institute, which no longer exists. Chestnut trees and stones from the property were used in the renovation project for both structures.

Sendak, a good friend of Schindel’s, referred to it as “nirvana … a place you can hardly believe existed.”

Wine tasting room with original stone fireplace at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Wine tasting room with original stone fireplace at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Contributed photo / Nicki Chavoya

Fast forward 20 years into the new millennium and the property, main house and cottage have again been reimagined; this time by renowned Architect John Fry, principal of Tarrytown-based Nexus Creative Design; designed by award-winning interior designer Shawn Callahan-Diaz; and custom built by Robert Kloc of RK Creative Construction in Redding. In effect, this trio took their own creativity and wove it into the fabric of Schindel’s vision to make this house adaptable to the uses appropriate to the 21st century while keeping the character and integrity of the space as it was.

The result is a “terribly pleasing” house, cottage and grounds.

The newly constructed, Energy Star-rated, clapboard and stone contemporary farmhouse, with a hint of architectural arts-and-crafts styling, on a cul-de-sac in the Weston Woods subdivision features 14 rooms and 6,775 square feet of living and entertaining space. While the renovation took the house down to the studs the project preserved the original beams and restored the stone fireplaces in the main house and cottage. So challenging was the project that the team referred to it as “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” sticking to the children’s literary theme. Today it goes by a different name.

“Welcome to Forest Manor at Weston Woods,” said Listing Agent Rosa Careccia. “Imagine your life in this custom-built home, where modern living embraces rustic charm,” she said.

The rustic charm is elevated in the hands of the design-build team. The Nexus Creative Design website says of this rebuild, “The residence seamlessly blends a rustic core with contemporary elements supporting next generation lifestyles. All vintage components have been updated to reflect 2020 construction performance standards in conjunction with premier new construction methods.”

Gourmet kitchen at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Gourmet kitchen at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Contributed photo / Nicki Chavoya

The sophisticated formal living room flows into the tasting room, both with original stone fireplaces. The formal dining room sits in a circular space with a door to a large wrap-around ipe deck that looks over the heated Gunite in-ground swimming pool. The deck rails are wide enough to set down drinks “because this is a party house,” Careccia said.

Barn doors slide open to reveal a large butler’s pantry and spacious gourmet kitchen with quartz counters, two islands, walnut cabinetry, and high-end appliances. It is open to the great room with an original stone wall. Like all the first floor rooms, it features a door to the outdoor seating and entertainment areas.

“The idea was to make it an indoor-outdoor house, to bring the outdoors inside,” Careccia said.

The once no-bedroom house now has five of them — four in the main house and another in the cottage, which is a legal rental with separate utilities, although it is perfectly suited for a home office. The master suite features two walls of windows and a luxurious marble bath. The laundry room has a built-in bench and a beverage refrigerator “because you should always have a glass of wine while doing the laundry,” Careccia said.

IPE deck looking over Gunite swimming pool at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

IPE deck looking over Gunite swimming pool at 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston.

Contributed photo / Nicki Chavoya

The house was designed with an elevator shaft, used for other purposes for now, but it could easily be converted to accommodate an elevator. It also has a 500-gallon fire suppression/sprinkler system, whole-house Wi-Fi with six stations, spray foam insulation, air scrubbers, two wells and two septic systems.

“A lot of things that are special about this house are the things you can’t see,” Careccia said.

The house is conveniently located only minutes from the heart of Weston and it is only 10 minutes from the Merritt Parkway. This property is also very close to Devil’s Den Nature Preserve and the town’s Lachat Farm.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Rosa Careccia of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties at 203-856-9047 or rosacareccia@bhhsne.com.

ABOUT THIS HOUSE

TYPE: Contemporary Farmhouse, New Construction

ADDRESS: 58 Weston Woods Way, Weston

PRICE: $2,800,000

NUMBER OF ROOMS: 14

FEATURES: water frontage - stream and restored koi pond, footbridge, 2.28-acre level and gently sloping property, located on a cul-de-sac, guest cottage/legal rental, Energy Star-rated, heated Gunite in-ground swimming pool, large wrap-around IPE deck, paving stone patio, garden area, exterior lighting, open concept floor plan, wine tasting room, fire sprinkler system, radiant heated floors, extra insulation, generator-ready, programmable thermostat, Thermopane windows, walking distance to Lachat Farm; close to Devil's Den Nature Preserve, the center of Weston and public schools; only about 10 minutes from the Merritt Parkway, five fireplaces, air scrubbers, tank-less hot water, multi-zoned central air conditioning, zoned propane heat, attached under house three-car garage with potential electric charging station, two driveways, laundry chute, original stone walls, Westport beach rights, full partially finished walk-out lower level, pull-down attic stairs, two private wells, new septic system, five bedrooms, six full and two half baths

SCHOOLS: Hurlbutt Elementary, Weston Middle, Weston High

ASSESSMENT: *

TAX RATE: 32.37 mills

TAXES: *

* New construction, taxes not set yet