NORWALK — At 18, Anne Law dreamed of purchasing an old farmhouse she could renovate, repurpose and fill with art and a family.
A decade later, in 1961, she and her husband Peter got to work on that dream, purchasing the secluded, 3/4 acre property at 19 Jacob St. in Rowayton. Now, after 55 years of renovations and memories, the property is back on the market for $899,000 through realtor Gwen Alexis at Halstead Connecticut’s Darien office. Law, a lifelong artist, sculptor and beloved Rowaytonite, died last winter at 85, and now her husband and children are preparing to give up the home they grew up in.
“This place is really special,” Alexis said. “It was more than a house, it was a way of life.”
In the crowded peninsula of Rowayton, the secluded property, complete with 24 raised garden beds, is a rarity. Previously a carriage house for the Victorian next door, the home had functioned as a barn and needed some serious TLC when the Law’s purchased it. But that’s exactly what Anne was looking for.
“Together they sanded, stuccoed, painted and repainted,” said Anthony Law, the youngest Law child, who was yet to be born when the family first purchased the home.
Jenny Law, the second eldest Law sibling, was old enough to remember the home in its original state, back when the gardens were overgrown and the house still smelled of horses.
“I do recall seeing the hillside, where all those terraced beds are now, be transformed shovel full by shovel full from a grown-over mess of bramble into the paradise it is now,” Jenny Law said. “I remember my mother uncovering an endless mound of oyster shells. (Neighbor) Mary Cohn said it was probably a former site of a Native American settlement. When I did some research for a school project years later on the history of Rowayton … I found information of that exact thing, mounds of oyster shells being a sign of a settlement. So, I think the ground is sacred.”
Off the backside of the home, an arbor covered in grapevines has been there since before the Law family purchased the property. In the ‘60s, they added a patio made from bricks stolen in batches loaded into the back of a Volkswagen bus from the old Norwalk High School.
“I remember she would take us there and we had to load up the bricks … to her, everything could be repurposed,” Anthony Law said.
Off the patio is the front door, arched and only accessible with the original skeleton key. Inside, the wide planked pine floors were uncovered in one of Anne and Peter’s first home improvement projects, sanding through layers and layers of colored paint.
“When my parents first bought the house the first thing they did was sand the floors,” Jenny Law said. “The ones that are still in the living room and dining room, with small electric hand sanders, a huge job, and my mother was very pregnant with Hilary, and it reeked of horses for weeks.”
Walls have been removed to open up the home, creating a large living room, dining room and kitchen. In the dining room, a mural by artist Wendy Williams covers one wall, and in the kitchen, the cabinets are made from the original barnwood from the outside of the home. The Law’s stripped the wood and repurposed it, adding character to the kitchen that overlooks the enchanting gardens.
Upstairs, four bedrooms make up the living area. In the master bedroom — once two bedrooms before the children moved out — Anne Law commissioned New York artist Paul Colucci to design the closet doors, a stunning carved wood with Aztec influences.
“The house was always filled with art,” Anthony Law said. “It’s private. It’s peaceful. It is an oasis … this house is really more a member of the family.”
Turning to his 89-year-old father, Peter, he added, “It’s the home you and mom created.”
And though Peter, Anthony and his three sisters still love the home, filled to the brim with memories, they said it’s time for someone new to enjoy it as much as they did.
“You just hope someone recognizes how special this place is instead of bulldozing it,” Anthony Law said. “I think it really does mean a lot to us that it finds the right owner.”
Alexis, who also lives in Rowayton and knew Anne Law well, said she’s working hard to find the perfect buyer.
“I’d love to see it go to a young family,” Alexis said. “This is a fairytale house.”
Thursday, May 26, 2016