The 66th Annual Open House Day Tour of Litchfield to benefit the Connecticut Junior Republic (CJR) will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, rain or shine. This year’s tour features five homes of historic and architectural interest and a lovely garden in the quaint community of Milton.
Hidden away among Litchfield’s country lanes and back roads, this storybook village features many fine homes, as well as the charming Milton Center Historic District, which flourished on waterpower until the middle of the 19th Century. Surrounded by farmland and woods, Milton is a lovely destination often missed by visitors to Litchfield.
In addition to the featured homes, the self-guided tour will also include additional points of interest in Milton and Litchfield, including the Milton Congregational Church, Trinity Episcopal Church and Milton Hall, as well as the beautiful churches in the center of Litchfield, the Litchfield History Museum, Tapping Reeve Law School and Lourdes of Litchfield.
The following homes are featured on this year’s tour:
The Deacon Peter Buell House
This remarkable 1723 center-chimney, chestnut framed Georgian farmhouse was constructed by Captain/Deacon John Buell near a place commonly called “Watch Tower.” The dwelling was passed on to his son, Peter, in 1734, and a “lean-to” was added. The house was held by the Buell family until 1863, when it was sold, and then reclaimed again in 1923, and finally sold in 1958. In 1961, the house narrowly escaped demolition and was rescued and moved to Milton. Here, the home was restored to reflect domestic life as it existed during Peter and his heirs’ fifty-year tenure. Today, the Buell House stands as a document to 18th century rural family life in Litchfield. Highlights of the home include transverse summer beams, a pine sheathed ceiling, six-over-four sash above entry and wide board chestnut and pine flooring. Extensive renovations recently completed by the home’s current owner include a new rear addition with all the amenities and comforts of modern day living.
In 1726, Benjamin Boardman was granted the land on which this house stands to work as a farm. Today, the Dickinson Farm is one of the few remaining intact farms in Litchfield, dating back to the 18th century. The existing Colonial house was constructed circa 1760 and was designed as a five bay central chimney residence. During the 19th century, a two bay extension was added, and for a period of time, served as a cobbler’s shop. In 1849, Edwin P. Dickinson bought the house and surrounding farm land. This property remained in his family for the next 110 years. The current owner added on a great room in the back of the house for use as an art studio and to display family art. The fabulous wall mural in the dining room, illustrating Litchfield history, is a continuing work in progress.
Fox Ridge Cottage
Built in 1996, this stunning Adirondack-style Cape home was sited on a granite ridge overlooking a small stream and fox den. The interior features include nine-foot ceilings, wide plank hardwood flooring, two fireplaces and a state-of-the-art kitchen. Attached to the back of the house is a screened three season porch, and an outdoor hot tub and shower, with undisturbed views of the woods. Towards the back of the home is a new outdoor retreat center. This enchanting section of the garden features unique stump seating around an open fire pit. The grounds on the south side of the home include a heart-shaped herb garden and a crescent moon-shaped perennial garden.
White Bridge Farm
The oldest part of this home was built by Levi Coe, Sr., circa 1787, on twelve acres. In 1832, Levi Coe, Jr. inherited the home and enlarged the property to 300 acres, added the Greek Revival elements to the house and named it Cloverdale Farm. The notable Greek Revival details include recessed panels on the pilasters, double fascia board with stringcourse molding, and the trabeated (horizon beams or lintels), in the entry. The south parlor displays distinctive door surrounds with eared architraves (moldings surrounding doors), and splayed (oblique angled or beveled) frames. The newel post is original to the house. Also of historic significance are the maple trees lining the front of the house, which are said to have been planted by Civil War veterans. The glass greenhouse on the south elevation is a modern addition. An in-ground pool, bath house, tennis courts, livestock arena, two barns and a 1920’s office building are located on the property.
William Sprat(s) House
William Sprat(s), a British soldier of Scottish decent, came to Hartford and Litchfield as a paroled war prisoner following the defeat of General Burgoyne, prior to 1779. Sprat(s) bought five acres of land in Milton in 1786 and as a trained architect and builder, built his own small gambrel dwelling. The house, erected in 1787 with a chimney and front entry on the original North-end, was typically called a “half-house.” A shoemaker’s shop operated in the residence from 1814-1834. In the 20th century, the present north side and gambrel roof were joined to the original house. Dormers were added in the 1920’s. Highlights of the original house include the well in the kitchen, the raised panel doors throughout the house, Litchfield hardware on some doors and a five light transom above the door. Of interest outside are a vintage three seat outhouse and various sheds.
Starr and Ziehl Garden
At the end of this delightful formal garden, an Adirondack-style pergola overlooks a small brook with a large granite slab set in the earth to serve as a bridge. Gravel paths lead to an impressive sized millstone centered within the courtyard and an Adirondack-style bench sits on the opposite side of the pergola to take in a view of the entire garden. The north side of the garden includes shade perennials and decorative stone work. Ornamental pear and cherry trees in stone lined ovals, lead your eye to a stone bench, anchoring the South side of the garden. Other plants in the garden include hornbeams – a small hardwood tree, as well as boxwoods, blueberry bushes and honeysuckle growing on a trellis.
Tickets and information about the evening tour and cocktail reception may be obtained by calling the Connecticut Junior Republic (860) 567-9423, ext. 278. Advance tickets for the general tour on Saturday are $30.00 and may be ordered by contacting the Litchfield Aid of CJR, P.O. Box 214, Litchfield, Connecticut 06759. Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your credit card information, or check or money order, made payable to: Litchfield Aid of CJR. Those using credit cards (American Express, MasterCard and Visa) for payment should provide account name, number, security code and expiration date. Discover Card is NOT accepted. Advance orders are non-refundable and must be received no later than Friday, June 28. Requests for tickets after this date will be held for pick-up on the day of the tour at the ticket tent on the Green. Special rates are available for tour groups that reserve a minimum of 20 tickets in advance.
Tickets for the Saturday Tour from 10: AM to 4:00 PM will be sold on the date of the event for $35.00 for adults and children on the Litchfield Green. (No charge for infants.) Further information about the House Tour and ticket sales may be accessed online: www.litchfieldhousetour.org.
Visitors may enjoy lunch at the Connecticut Junior Republic for $7.00 from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM. A choice of a seafood salad or smoked turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich plate, including pasta salad, brownie, and iced tea, will be offered by CJR students. The luncheon may be viewed on the House Tour website: www.litchfieldhousetour.org.