A story of revival. Our adventure in restoring Holleywood, a grande dame member of Connecticut's Historic Register.
It's been in one family since the Governor of CT built it in 1853.
Let me start by saying we're most unlikely buyers of a handyman's special. First off, we're not handy. My husband Donald was raised in the Bronx with a super who did everything except change the lightbulbs. I was brought up in suburbs with a DIY Dad, but never dogged him on Saturdays to learn tips of house maintenance like my brothers did.
In fact, we weren't looking to buy a house. We already have a house in the area. A sweet farmhouse in Amenia, NY, built about the same time Holleywood was. We were renovating its kitchen. We'd chosen a contractor who specialized in old houses, who was rather eccentricly attached to historic eras himself. He refused to own a cellphone, TV, even a computer. His partner wrote up our bills on a typewriter and mailed them the old fashioned way.
One day, he told me about a listing that was about to come onto the market. He'd been asked by a realtor to assess the extent of work needing to be done. "In all my years, I've never seen a house built to its industrial strength. The parquet doesn't creak and the basement's bone dry. Somebody's going to walk away with the deal of the century." I pressed for details. Nine bedrooms. Center hall. Stained glass turret. Lake frontage. Someone in town had already made an offer.
I fell in love with Holleywood the moment I walked through its huge, heavy front door to a grand center hall with a winding, spiral staircase reminiscent of the one Scarlett O'Hara flounced down. Yes, wallpaper was curling and paint hung from ceiling beams and landscaping hadn't been done since the Civil War. But I was determined to bring her back. (Follow the rest of the story here.)
20 rooms: 9 bedrooms, 4 loos, kitchen the size of a 1 BR apt.
How could buyers from Manhattan resist this abundance of space? Plus, it stood on a beautiful 335-acre spring-fed lake providing swimming, fishing and boating in summer. (With the happy exception of motor-boating.)
A few visits and we found ourselves making an offer--with no contingency clauses. The property hadn't been widely advertised yet, and we wanted to make sure that we were its next owners. This was the description from the realtor's brochure. The realtor was Robinson Leech who offered it co-exclusively with John Harney.