God bless her, but I don’t think I’d do this

117 Dingletown Road

117 Dingletown Road

Owner of 117 Dingletown Road has asked Greenwich Historical Society to determine whether her house is “historic”

The property has been referred to as the Gershom Lockwood III House after the original owner and builder. Documents submitted to the selectmen noted it is “a particularly excellent example of colonial architecture and is one of the few remaining mid-18th-century structures in Greenwich.”

“I’ve been through the house and it’s a terrific 18th-century house in a great location,” Bishop said. “She and her husband have lived there for years and raised their children there. She would hate to see this piece of history lost in the town of Greenwich and she has volunteered that she would like to be designated a historic property.”

“This is a good testament to someone who is being responsive to the call for preservation of historic properties,” said First Selectman Peter Tesei. “This is a real positive for the town.”

“Of course we’re thrilled when anyone wants to do this,” Bishop said. “It’s not that often, and we’re really happy that she would like to go down that road.”

The study committee will be made up of the five regular members and three alternates of the Historic District Commission. Its report will have an analysis of the historical and architectural significance of the property and, once completed, would be sent to the state for final review.

Why wouldn’t someone want to have their house declared a historic property? Resale:

If the designation is granted, future work on the property would be severely limited. It could still be used as a home but a certificate of appropriateness would have to be granted by the Historic District Commission before any major changes could be made.

Most home buyers can’t stand being restricted in the use of their property, and houses that have such restrictions suffer and, in my experience, they sit on the market for far longer, an sell for far less, that comparable houses which are not so burdened. Mrs. Larkin is making a selfless contribution to the town by her action, and we should all thank her from the bottom of our hearts, but the restrictions imposed by such a designation probably explain why our town has so few original homes, to our loss.

64 Comments

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64 responses to “God bless her, but I don’t think I’d do this

  1. Anonymous

    blah house, I guess if she wants to lose value why not

  2. Diana

    Anonymous you are everything that is wrong with new Greenwich !!!

    • Anonymous

      Except I am old both age and years in town!

      • Anonymous

        You are not an “old” resident until you are third generation in Greenwich. Anyway, for some folks, money is not everything, and it is certainly not the be all and end all. There are more important things than getting that last nickel. Sometimes it is more rewarding to give some of it away, either to charity, or perhaps in this case, protecting an historic house from the wrecking ball.

        • American Muscle

          If you feel like giving some away, I’m available 🙂

        • Anonymous

          Ok, I am 69 years old and have lived here for 35 years, I will concede I am a brash upstart. I don’t care if she donates the house to charity, good for her, what annoys me is the bureaucracy of the process to designate a pleasant but not particularly interesting home as a “historic landmark”. We have the Board of Selectman, the Historic District Commission, the RTM and god knows who in the State involved.

        • Anonymous

          Anon and AM. This is for you. The original video.

  3. Swanton

    There are tax incentives for historic properties which can be very beneficial with little downside if the house is located in a registered and notable historic district in the first place. Owners grant an easement stating they won’t change certain aspects. Kind of a scam in my book because they are already subject to the rules of the district.
    Any house older than 50 years is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. No big deal and no restrictions on what can be done to the place unless federal monies are attached.
    An old house which isn’t a part of a well defined historic district is at the end of the day, simply an old house. As charming as they are, they aren’t easy to bring up to today’s standards. Even the best examples of antique architecture go begging.

    • Greenwich

      Couldn’t disagree with you more! Most new homes are made poorly with the exception of the higher end builders 5 million and up! All it takes is money to update an older home built in 1920’s, that will be around for another 85 years. New shabby construction looks like crap after 5 years.

      • Swanton

        Old shabby construction doesn’t look so hot, either. A 1920’s house is modern by my standards. My point was that just because a house is old doesn’t mean it’s worthy of restoration or improvements. I am a strong proponent of historic preservation. Being partial to federal and colonial architecture, I’ve seen many which just won’t work today. Nothing can fix a ceiling that is too low even if beams are exposed. Ever face insulating horsehair plaster walls? Restoring windows 150 years old? How about replacing cloth covered wiring? Replacing a few slates on a roof? I have. Money doesn’t mean updating will be done sympathetically. Breaks my heart to see some of those examples.
        There is a trend in my area to raze an old house and build a new, identical one with modern systems like A/C and heating zones. I approve.
        If quality construction can’t be had for less than 5mil, you’re being taken.

  4. Anonymous

    My husband and I (and other long-term residents of Stanwich Lane) have often wondered if our special horseshoe-shaped lane of twenty or so Cotswold-cottage style houses (all built in 1929 by the same builder – I was told this was the first development in Greenwich) could be preserved. To date there have been zero tear-downs, which is amazing for Greenwich – it would be wonderful if the integrity of the Lane could be saved somehow.. Greenwich Oldtimer

  5. joan ardrey

    My husband and I (and other long-term residents of Stanwich Lane) have often wondered if our special horseshoe-shaped lane of twenty or so Cotswold-cottage style houses (all built in 1929 by the same builder – I was told this was the first development in Greenwich) could be preserved. To date there have been zero tear-downs, which is amazing for Greenwich – it would be wonderful if the integrity of the Lane could be saved somehow.. Greenwich Oldtimer

  6. Mickster (Back from ACK)

    You Americans are sooo funny! 18th century?? Historic?? That’s like yesterday! Puleeeese……Houses older than 50 years are eligible to be listed…i have socks older than that…someone needs to get a life here.

    • Anonymous

      Funny MACKster

    • Seems to me that either (a) you need to buy some new socks, or (b) bog trotters don’t wear socks (or shoes) so it’s no wonder they don’t wear out.
      By the way, why did the Kaiser wash his socks? He couldn’t stand the smell of defeat.
      That’s the only WWI joke I know.

      • Mickster

        Just came back from ACK, nobody wears socks out there. Funny aside, Mickster Minor and GF were at a fancy restaurant (feet in the sand, admiring the sunset) after we left and couldn’t believe the number of people from Greenwich there. He said all the conversations beside him were about Greenwich and New Canaan real estate. CF, you would have fit right in!!

  7. Flash

    The answer is MONEY!
    What’s the question?
    In Greenwich the answer is always money.

  8. burningmadolf

    Reminds me of the first house I bought in Greenwich where the sellers “requested” we meet before closing so they could tell us all about their beautiful home and why they chose us over a builder who wanted to tear it down.
    Sold it 2 years later (at a nice profit) to someone who knocked it down and built a McMansion.
    If you want a legacy house, don’t fucking sell!

  9. Mickster

    I didn’t mean to trivialize American history earlier but in the scheme of things you really just got here. There have been some huge historical events and people in the recent past but when you start plaqueing every little farmhouse and outhouse with “General so and so” slept here or pissed there then you make a joke of the whole process.
    America will be known forever as being the country with the greatest individual freedom and for some of the greatest modern discoveries and cures. Let’s keep it all in perspective.
    Was that enough pandering?? I can hear the Ins at my door. Gotta go…

    • I think it was Kruschev (sp) who said he’d trade all his generals for two American ones, General Electric and General Motors.

    • Libertarian Advocate

      When I lived on the South Shore of Massachusetts, I owned a house built in 1668. Truly a gem that house. Bread oven in the original kitchen, ham smoking closet immediately above. It remains to this day a tough old house.

  10. Please stop McMansion references, they are Ego Temples.
    A real Town Plan would encourage through tax breaks and transfer rights protection from eye pain and better flood management and restore a sense of place and purpose as a Town to raise a family not just money.

    • Anonymous

      I agree (I think) but anybody involved with the zoning approval process in this town has long since lost the plot.

  11. Anonymous

    People should actually read the Greenwich Time article Chris linked to. It is scary the number of tax payer funded employees who are involving themselves in the multi layered approval process to restrict property rights on this land. At least in this case it is the the owner’s choice to get the committees rolling.

    • Yos

      Your lack of respect for these people is incredible! Why, they have degrees in “City Planning.” They are experts in “preservation” and they have the training! You do not! You merely pay taxes, you silly plebe.

  12. burningmadolf

    So if it gets historic designation are there full disclosure documents for the buyer to sign like you get if you live near an airbase?

  13. Yos

    Historical preservation is a private choice; If she wants it, perhaps put such preservation requirements in a sales covenant to the next owner. Let the price lead where it may.

    Hysterical Preservation… is what we do unto others with their property because, after all, we know better. Surely!

  14. Anonymous

    Money isn’t everything to everyone, once there is enough.

  15. Accolay

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is a town-specific phenomenon. Greenwich, and notably, Westport are like this – Darien and NC to a lesser extent. Go to Weston, or some towns in Westchester, and you won’t see this. Still don’t understand why it’s town-specific, though.

  16. RON

    if the marketability of the house is restricted and options are limited would this not lead to a reduction in property tax? If the house is then donated to a “family trust” would the whole transaction not be a charity deduction?

    • Not really – it’s not an outright gift, it’s a voluntary acceptance of restrictions that will (probably) make the house less valuable, but in an amount that can’t be determined until the house is sold. My guess is that, even when the house is sold, the IRS won’t consider that a donation. Less capital gains, but that’s small consolation.

  17. Anonymous

    I am going to designate my house the Thurston Howell III Homestead

    • My friend and near-neighbor, architect Cinny Crosman, named the cottage she built near Ole’s “Swamp Vue”. Cinny’s a fine architect but she’s no realtor.

      • Mickster

        I’ve smiled at that name 1000s of times in passing for the very same reason, however appropriate !!!

      • After two large houses were built around us in RI, our mailbox is now emblazoned with Vuenomor. We pronounce it vwhennamour, like a duPont estate might be so named. Klassy, eh? It takes passers-by a bit to get it.

      • Hmmmm

        Well, her house was literally a squatters shack for years before they renovated. Somewhat better now; not sure I agree on the “fine architect” view.

        • The squatter’s shack was framed by 2X2s and was torn down. The house site was nearly impossibly restricted because of its undersized area, proximity to the water, etc., and Cinny did an incredible job creating a house to fit. The inside is a small jewel box, and a wonderful space to live in. I

  18. Greenwich Gal

    Imagine how lovely our town would be if we had preserved many of the historic structures? Imagine if we still had the fabulous house at Tod’s Point, many of the others in Belle Haven and downtown? It would have enhanced the beauty and uniqueness of Greenwich and been an asset in the end.
    Imagine if NYC still had Penn Station. Or the incredible Vanderbilt mansion. People still mourn the loss of those structures.
    Sometimes you have to make the long play.

    • Anonymous

      But the problem is Greenwich attracts people who can’t see the long play. They’ve come up in the world, and want people to know it. People buy and sell houses, there’s no continuity, it’s a transient population…conditions not ripe for what you imagine.

      • Greenwich Gal

        Unfortunately you are probably correct. However, when cooler and wiser minds prevail in town planning, good things happen. Let’s remind ourselves about towns with strong Historic Preservation….Newport, RI; Charleston, SC; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA. Just a few. Places that are livable, charming and lovely destinations.

        • Cos Cobber

          GG, is there anything left in town worth saving? Aside from Gwich ave, it seems there is very little left in town. Most of the grand estates have been razed. There are very few streets like Perryridge with charming prewar mid sized homes. 90% of the town is crappy ranches/splits and new/newish stuff which replaced both the old good stuff and old bad stuff.

        • Anonymous

          Tons left worth saving. Mostly from the late 1800s-1920s, but those are still worth it. Also in North Greenwich and northeastern Greenwich on the Stamford border there are some very old houses.

    • Anonymous

      Well said!

      • Greenwich Gal

        CC – I do think there is a great deal worth saving. There are still some important estates in town that people have restored and maintained. However, I often think about all that has been lost. Greenwich could have easily been as beautiful and stately as Newport had people not given in to knocking things down.
        One of the biggest deterrents is that there is no program given to save old structures. There are no incentives for owners whatsoever. Hard to believe in Connecticut of all places where one would think a respect for the past. Town wide there is really nothing. The HSTG plaques buildings but that is all. It is just a seal of approval. Statewide there is nothing either. It’s a shame.

  19. Anonymous

    Gorgeous house. Yes, it’d be unremarkable nearly anywhere else in FField Cty, where exquisite restored historic homes are common. But in Greenwich, this is worth remarking on! People would rather pay Kalgon Nalgene 3x the price for a fake approximation.

  20. Mickster

    History is all about EVENTS in our past.

    I will give you that if the Magna Carta was signed on your front porch or that Battle of the Bulge played out on your back pasture you have an historical location. Otherwise, fuggettaboutit!!

    I like old houses a lot but styles and tastes changes whether it be in houses, clothes or cars. Not always for the better but what can one do.

    Well, I guess you can get a plaque from the good people at Town Hall and prevent or restrict any change in the property. But just because some eejit slept there last week doesn’t make it historical. If that was the case all the houses visited by our Presidents in Greenwich for fundraisers could be classified as historical – should be call hysterical instead.

    • Not that he did much sleeping there, but Isn’t the quaint cottage where John Wayne introduced Maureen O’Hara to the Quiet Man, Mr. Potato Head, a historical shrine? Walt will know, even if you yourself are ignorant of your country’s proud history.

      • Mickster

        To be sure, to be sure, it is. And the top of the morning to you too, your Lordship!
        Walt is more of an authority on that redhead than I so I bow to his study of her fair ‘demeanour’.

  21. Greenwich Gal

    Woe be to those who forget their history…

  22. Anonymous

    “Imagine how lovely our town would be if we had preserved many of the historic structures? It would have enhanced the beauty and uniqueness of Greenwich and been an asset in the end.”

    I totally agree with your sentiment but I have no idea how this would be implemented absent confiscation of property rights. Our town bureaucrats are already terrible, imagine as a property owner having some committee of dimwits telling you your home is historic and you can no longer renovate it, knock it down, or do what you want with it when you die or retire to Florida.

    Even if somebody wants to donate an old house somebody else still has to pay property taxes and maintenance in perpetuity.

    If people want to include covenants on a property that is certainly their choice but I often see semi abandoned homes that don’t get repaired or sold due to such restrictions after the initial owner moves on.

    Southport, CT and Bronxville have nicely preserved older homes, I do not know if that is a function of zoning or just a different collective viewpoint in those communities. Anybody know?

    • Greenwich Gal

      A neighborhood decides as a group to become a Historic District. (Each state and community has different regulations on how you get that designation.) But basically it means that anyone buying into that area abides by the rules. I was once in a Historic District and we were happy to be in one. It protected us from tacky, cheap additions which diminished the charm and overall quality of the neighborhood. Imagine if you just spent a wad on your home and your next door neighbor decided to cover their house in vinyl siding or paint their house a heinous color of whatever that was not in character of the neighborhood? Imagine if some San Francisco denizen decided to take down one of the famous “painted Ladies” just because he didn’t like it anymore and build a glass and steel modern? (Not that there is anything wrong with a glass and steel modern but they have their place.)That would be a tragedy and it would affect the values of all the homes adjacent to it. Ultimately it is about protecting the character of a community and the property values of everyone in it. Of course, when you buy into a community like this – you can’t do anything you want. But there are advantages and disadvantages – but I would say the advantages are greater.

    • Accolay

      Both Southport and Bronxville have historic districts, although I don’t think throughout the whole town. Personally, I think it’s a “mindset” of the town. You don’t move to either place unless you want a low key, vintage life. They’re not show-off towns, in my opinion.