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Siobhan McLaughlin's Blog

By Siobhan McLaughlin | Agent in Middletown, CT

An article on my listing on Lambert Ave in Meriden

The Record Journal 01/03/2010, Page C01

More stately mansions

than you might expect to find reside in Meriden

By Andrew Perlot



A CITY WITH A REPUTA­tion for staid middle-class homes, a hint of lavishness yet reigns among a few dozen houses in Meriden, the rem­nants of a more affluent age. A num­ber of these properties are for sale, some for prices that would be con­sidered steals in any of the sur­rounding communities.

Two months ago, “The Castle,” a brick Tudor mansion at 70 Lambert Ave. built by Russian-born down­town
real estate mogul and cattle­man Esidor Derecktor, was put on the market for $839,900.

Derecktor built the 5,216-square­foot house in 1930 for his daughter in the affluent Bradley Park neigh­borhood, and, as realtor Siobhan Mc Laughlin walked through it Thursday, she pointed out all the ways that he hadn’t stinted.

Hard wood floors, carved wooden relief moldings, Welsh tile, granite fire places— 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-bed­room mansion distinction that would be hard to replicate today, she said.

“It’s definitely a unique property,” 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 you’d have a house valued at well in excess of $1 million, she said.

Owner Catherine Bennett said she and her husband, “felt like we were stewards of the house,” and said anyone who buys it has to be
“an old house person.”

Calling the house, “enchanting,” with its library, large bedrooms, din­ing room, and an entire nanny’s apartment, she said it had been a privilege to live there.

Across the city, houses like “The Castle” exist in small pockets, said City Development and Enforcement Director Dominick Caruso. With its recently-adopted Plan of Conserva­tion 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.

“That goes back to the old industrial age,” he said of the luxurious houses built by fac­tory owners and managers, many of which can be found on Washington Heights. “Just look at some of those unbe­lievable homes.”

Such housing sets the city apart from its suburban neigh­bors, he said.

The Coe Mansion at 39 Ore­gon Road, up on a knoll over­looking Platt High School, would require considerably more work for someone to make into a home, said owner Gregory Harte, but it still re­tains 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 man­sion 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 Clemens— Mark Twain— 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 sur­rounding property into age­restricted housing. He put it back on the market in 2007 because he couldn’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 hall­ways
are 12 feet wide, with built-in bookcases all over.

“No modern homeowner would build that nowadays ...”

Harte said, “But it adds to the grand nature of the house.”

The mansion is being mar­keted for $499,000, including two acres of the surrounding land, but Harte said that de­spite being structurally sound, it needs heating, air condi­tioning, and plumbing up­grades that would be expen­sive.

Across the city at 144 Curtis St., a 4,368-square-foot Bur­gundy Queen Anne-style home called, “The Painted Lady,” is on the market for $449,900.

The home boasts a three­story 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 fa­vorite.

He mentioned a few of the more notable houses in the City: the Billard Estate, a mas­sive 22-room Tudor mansion set on 41.5 acres on Allen Av­enue, the Lewis Mansion, built by Isaac C. Lewis in 1868 across from City Hall, and the Pelton mansion, a Mediter­ranean- style hou se at 126 Winthrop Terrace built by book publisher Albert Pelton.

“They’re all unique and gor­geous in their own way,” he said.


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