Waterfront towns were the commercial hubs of early America, carrying commerce up and down major waterways such as the Long Island Sound in the days before railroads crossed the country.
Darien, CT, was such a center, with a commercial dock located on an island that was part of local merchant John Weed's estate.
The sailing vessels that would stop at Darien on their runs between New York City and Boston are long gone, but the island has found new life as the site of this impressive shingle-style home, now on the market for $17.5 million.
Built in 2009 by listing agent Kim Hufford for her own family, the home sits on roughly 7.1 acres, offering 360-degree water views with Long Island Sound to the south and the Goodwives River to the north. The home also adjoins a 3-acre coastal meadow land trust that can't be built on.
The estate's amenities range from its own swimming pool and spa to a basement play area with artificial grass for children. The walk-out basement also includes a billiard room and woodworking shop. When the house was built, Hufford also drilled into the bedrock to create a high-efficiency geothermal heating and cooling system.
The 8,332-square-foot home has five en suite bedrooms and three half-baths. The main floor features a 12-foot ceiling in the great room, a set of 10 french doors that open onto a flagstone patio, and an eat-in kitchen with a Sub-Zero refrigerator and an eight-burner Wolf range.
Her goal in building the house was to create a place that captured the vibe of a Hamptons summer getaway, but could function as a year-round residence, Hufford notes. The shingle style was popular in the late 1800s when people were looking for a return to Colonial-era design with simple shingled surfaces.
The old commercial dock, where locally grown hay was once loaded onto ships to feed New York City's horse population in the pre-auto era, is gone. But there's a new recreational dock as well as dock storage space for kayaks and paddleboards.
John Weed might not recognize how Darien has changed since his days there, but he likely would be pleased to see such an impressive home on his old island.