Every two years, the public gets a chance to take a peek into some of Wilton’s most distinctive homes for the Wilton House Tour to benefit A Better Chance of Wilton (ABC). This year’s tour on Friday, June 2, features six spectacular Wilton Homes–with one new difference.
On Friday, May 19, there’s a bonus, optional Preview Party and tour of a 7th home–an incredible hill top residence unlike anything else in Wilton. Seeing this home brings some choice words to mind–pyramid, lookout…and private, as in very few people get to see inside this home. As a lead sponsor of the House Tour, GOOD Morning Wilton is excited to give readers a sneak peek into the house. Tour organizers have asked us to keep the address and the owners’ names a secret, but we did get the chance to talk to the owner about her very special home.
[Tickets are now on sale for both the Friday, June 2 tour and the Preview Party on Friday, May 19.]
The owners moved to Wilton from New Canaan in 2000. During their search for a house, they were looking for something less traditional.
“We had been looking at houses for some time. We didn’t find anything we liked, and had come to the conclusion we would build. Our architect mentioned there was a teardown house in Wilton on a great piece of property, that we might want to look at. We came and we loved the house–I think he was kind of surprised,” she laughs.
The house belonged to Bob Sharp, the original owner of what’s now Bruce Bennett Nissan. To say the residents was unusual would be somewhat of an understatement.
“It had been on and off the market for a long time–and the house has a swimming pool in the living room, which is not for everybody,” she says.
With a young son, the couple could have seen the pool as an obstacle. Not this pair. “The first thing we did was get him swimming lessons, not what typical people do when they move into a house,” she laughs again.
So what was it about the house that appealed to them?
“Both my husband and I grew up in more contemporary styles of houses, we never really liked the center hall colonials. I was very familiar with the modern houses in New Canaan and the ‘Harvard Five’ and that movement,” she explains, referring to the well-known architects of the 1940s, including Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes, who designed internationally recognizable homes there. “The house was originally designed by Richard Bergmann, from New Canaan, who as a young architect had worked with some of the Harvard Five, so it had that connection.”
But there was something even more striking and unique that sealed the deal.
“It had the most amazing view. I don’t know how many houses in Wilton can see Long Island Sound, but I imagine it’s not very many,” the owner says.
It’s that incredible view and the house’s setting that are the owner’s favorite things.
“Being on the hilltop it feels very private. Also you just have this big sky. You’re out in the sunshine or the rain, but…when I went to the Glass House years ago, somebody said something to the effect of, ‘Having all the windows is almost like having ever-changing wallpaper.’ The view everyday, even today when it’s rainy and windy, is still amazing. Everyday I can look out and it’s never exactly the same. Sometimes at night there’s a silver ribbon of the sound where the moon is shining, or you can see the snow coming from the West over to the East. I have a photograph where the sky is half blue and half cloudy. It’s just a stunning setting.”
It’s almost possible to forget where you are, thanks to the setting.
“Bob Sharp used to say–and keep in mind he was a car salesman–that driving up the driveway was like taking a helicopter ride to Vermont,” the owner says.
Surprisingly, even with the vast spacious view and a feeling of being so private, the home is almost hidden out in the open and very centrally located, not far from the High School, Cider Mill and Middlebrook schools.
“We do see neighbors and they are around us. I don’t actually want to be in that place where you’re so isolated. It feels very private, it’s also such a great location because you can be in town so quickly.
After buying the property, the owners completely renovated it and put on a sizable addition, as well as added a second pool outside. The renovations, done by Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects, were done with a very specific, sustainable goal.
“We wanted it to be a very efficient and green, clean kind of home. We used bamboo flooring, eco-friendly paints and finishes. Many of the walls in the public spaces are Venetian plaster and they’re waxed with beeswax so it’s non-toxic. The house is passive solar, so we can turn off the heating and cooling for 4-5 months every year. We always have a breeze even on the hottest days. We have a geothermal system and solar hot water.” Those kinds of features in 2000, when they bought the home, were rare for owners to want a builder to do.
What’s more, everything on the property is very eco-friendly.
“The house is surrounded by several acres of native wildflower meadow. In the back we have an organic vegetable garden, some fruit trees, raspberries and blueberries, and even figs. We don’t use any chemicals or pesticides on the grounds.”
What people will likely find when they enter the doors is …
“The comment we get most often about our house is that oftentimes, contemporary homes can feel very cold and sterile, but our home, because it has a lot of wood and stone and is surrounded by nature, it has a warmth to it and is very welcoming.”
The Preview Party on May 19 is a unique opportunity to see a project created by renowned architects, with such forethought, and that is so different in Wilton. It’s a once-in-a-rare-chance to see something like this home, especially in Wilton. There are less than two dozen tickets remaining, and once the party is sold out that chance disappears.
“We only open the house for special events. It’s a rare opportunity to get a look at this home. The architects have been Architectural Digest Top 100 Architects list regularly. They have an amazing reputation.”
Especially for private people, like the owners, it’s a generous gift to allow people into their home, but because the effort is so worthwhile, it’s something the owners wanted to do.
“ABC is such a great program, and really the education that’s provided by ABC to these kids by coming here to Wilton is essential. If you don’t have an education, you’re not going to be successful in the world we live in. So it was so easy for us to choose to do, because what’s not to like?”
To purchase tickets for the House Tour, the Preview Party or both, visit the ABC website.