Restored 18th-century colonial for sale

December 25, 2018

WESTPORT — Time was not initially a friend to the yellow antique colonial Greek revival house at 178 Compo Road South.

The house, once owned by Parke Cummings (1902-1987), a humorist and author of books on sports — including “The Dictionary of Sports,” “The Dictionary of Baseball” and “American Tennis: the Story of a Game and Its People,” had fallen into disrepair over more than 200 years.

The house met with good luck rather than the wrecking ball when an out-of-state couple set eyes on it 26 years ago and envisioned what it could become. Today this nine-room, 2,587-square-foot treasure on one acre in the South Compo neighborhood comprises a mixed tradition of vintage bones and modern technology, thanks to Thomas and Mary Jane Hood.

While other prospective homebuyers at the time saw only what was before their eyes, the Hoods looked past the broken windows, the leaking roof, and the lack of insulation to concentrate instead on the historic charm, architectural character, and the possibilities of the house, which was built in 1780. According to information provided by the homeowners, the foundation is circa 1725, the post and beam structure is circa 1840, and the rest of the house was completed in 2008.

“We bought a house that no one wanted,” said Thomas Hood, an architect, civil engineer, and elected member of the Westport Zoning Board of Appeals. At first, the Hoods even considered razing the house, thinking it would be the easier and more economical thing to do. Instead, “We focused on preserving the house and adding invisible technology,” Thomas Hood said.

It took many years, but the Hoods have created a home that should now be desired for its nod to the past and its ease of living and entertaining in the new millennium. They took the house down to the studs in 2007. They moved out for 18 months and spared no expense to complete what Hood calls a reconstruction rather than a restoration.

“Whilst striving to preserve the historic character and authenticity of the house there were many upscale improvements made both cosmetically and structurally,” the listing agent said.

The Hoods employed engineering consulting to reinforce the first floor understructure and hired a Litchfield County barn consultant to reinforce the original chestnut post and beam components and replace a damaged post. They gave the house a wealth of amenities and energy-efficient features. The Energy Star-rated house has too many features to mention. Hitting the highlights, the house has spray foam insulation, high-efficiency air handlers and boiler, instant hot water, energy-efficient aluminum exterior wood interior Marvin windows, and a built-in audio system and separate TV audio system. A data closet in the basement manages voice, cable, audio, remote TV, CAT5 network and the household Wi-Fi network.

There are white oak floorboards throughout all three floors, 7-inch baseboards, premium five-inch crown molding, additional picture rails throughout the first floor, new roofs, and a new kitchen with cherry cabinets. They rebuilt the center chimney and restored the four brick built fireplaces, including a summer cooking fireplace in the basement.

One of the fireplaces retains its original cooking arm and bread oven, which was converted into a wood storage box. Two fireplaces are faced with Italian marble and fired by natural gas log sets. The family can now enjoy the ambience of a fire, a far cry from the smoke-filled rooms that resulted from their first attempt to build a fire when they first moved in.

There are other benefits to owning this property. It has a red clay tennis court believed to be one of the oldest in town. According to Thomas Hood, the court was built by the Cummings family.

“Parke taught many locals on this court,” said Hood, who unearthed aerial photographs from the early 1920s on which the court is visible. “Two years ago we (rebuilt) the court wall and Fencing along the street at a cost of $35,000,” he said.

The Westport Women’s League presented Cummings with a plaque years ago and it remains on the court door to this day.

This house is also a short distance from Longshore Club Park, Compo Beach, and the Saugatuck train station.

For more information or to set up an appointment to see the house, contact Jane Jones of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties at 203-918-4751 or janejones@bhhsne.com.

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