More stately mansions
than you might expect to find reside in Meriden
By Andrew Perlot
A CITY WITH A REPUTAÂtion for staid middle-class homes, a hint of lavishness yet reigns among a few dozen houses in Meriden, the remÂnants of a more affluent age. A numÂber of these properties are for sale, some for prices that would be conÂsidered steals in any of the surÂrounding communities.
Two months ago, â€œThe Castle,â€ a brick Tudor mansion at 70 Lambert Ave. built by Russian-born downÂtown real estate mogul and cattleÂman Esidor Derecktor, was put on the market for $839,900.
Derecktor built the 5,216-squareÂfoot house in 1930 for his daughter in the affluent Bradley Park neighÂborhood, and, as realtor Siobhan Mc Laughlin walked through it Thursday, she pointed out all the ways that he hadnâ€™t stinted.
Hard wood floors, carved wooden relief moldings, Welsh tile, granite fire placesâ€” a large band of Italian craftsman under architect Lorenzo Hamilton, who designed dozens of homes and public buildings in the city, labored to give the five-bedÂroom mansion distinction that would be hard to replicate today, she said.
â€œItâ€™s definitely a unique property,â€ Mc Laughlin said, pointing out in particular that each of the exterior sections of the house has its bricks laid out in unique patterns.
Plop it down in Cheshire and youâ€™d have a house valued at well in excess of $1 million, she said.
Owner Catherine Bennett said she and her husband, â€œfelt like we were stewards of the house,â€ and said anyone who buys it has to be â€œan old house person.â€
Calling the house, â€œenchanting,â€ with its library, large bedrooms, dinÂing room, and an entire nannyâ€™s apartment, she said it had been a privilege to live there.
Across the city, houses like â€œThe Castleâ€ exist in small pockets, said City Development and Enforcement Director Dominick Caruso. With its recently-adopted Plan of ConservaÂtion and Development, the city is seeking to preserve and expand this type of housing as a balance to the
Please see Mansions /C2
Above: Esidor Derecktor built The Castle, on Lambert Avenue, in 1930. Below left: An interior of The castle. Below right: The Coe Mansion on Oregon Road was started in 1867 and took seven years to complete. One visitor, legend has it, was Mark Twain.
Photos above and at left by Christopher Zajac.
Photo at far left by Andrew Perlot
From Page C1
more modest housing stock that predominates in the city.
â€œThat goes back to the old industrial age,â€ he said of the luxurious houses built by facÂtory owners and managers, many of which can be found on Washington Heights. â€œJust look at some of those unbeÂlievable homes.â€
Such housing sets the city apart from its suburban neighÂbors, he said.
The Coe Mansion at 39 OreÂgon Road, up on a knoll overÂlooking Platt High School, would require considerably more work for someone to make into a home, said owner Gregory Harte, but it still reÂtains a grandness that sets it apart from other houses on the market.
Construction of the house by the Coes, a family of dairy farmers that once owned a large part of Meriden, began in 1867, and took seven years to complete.
The 8,600-square-foot manÂsion is a massive brownstone affair with walls more than two feet thick. Around the border of the roof, crosses can faintly be made out.
A massive porch, where Samuel Clemensâ€” Mark Twainâ€” was reported to have visited the owners and smoked his pipe, wraps around the entire length of the front.
Harte bought the house in 2004 with plans to turn the more than 10 acres of surÂrounding property into ageÂrestricted housing. He put it back on the market in 2007 because he couldnâ€™t find the time to carry out the plans.
Harte owns car dealerships around the state.
Every room in the house has a fireplace, and the hallÂways are 12 feet wide, with built-in bookcases all over.
â€œNo modern homeowner would build that nowadays ...â€
Harte said, â€œBut it adds to the grand nature of the house.â€
The mansion is being marÂketed for $499,000, including two acres of the surrounding land, but Harte said that deÂspite being structurally sound, it needs heating, air condiÂtioning, and plumbing upÂgrades that would be expenÂsive.
Across the city at 144 Curtis St., a 4,368-square-foot BurÂgundy Queen Anne-style home called, â€œThe Painted Lady,â€ is on the market for $449,900.
The home boasts a threeÂstory tower, elaborately carved pillars and other woodwork, and a third-floor ballroom.
Realtor Iris Meyer said she knows of a similar house in Massachusetts selling for around $3 million.
There are so many grand homes around the city that City Historian Dan Deluca said it was hard to pick a faÂvorite.
He mentioned a few of the more notable houses in the City: the Billard Estate, a masÂsive 22-room Tudor mansion set on 41.5 acres on Allen AvÂenue, the Lewis Mansion, built by Isaac C. Lewis in 1868 across from City Hall, and the Pelton mansion, a MediterÂranean- style hou se at 126 Winthrop Terrace built by book publisher Albert Pelton.
â€œTheyâ€™re all unique and gorÂgeous in their own way,â€ he said.