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The Opulent Firwood Mansion: $11.5M Teardown

What do you do after buying a four-story mansion for $11.5 million on Long Neck Point Road? Live in it? Nope. You tear it down. You bought it for the acres that you're subdividing for new homes.

 

A "Teardown"—a concept many town residents are familiar with, often from seeing them in their own neighborhoods—is house that someone buys just so that they can tear it down and build something bigger in its place.

Essentially, the buyer is purchasing the land. The house is just an extra expense because it will be torn down and removed. Usually the house being removed is rather modest (by Fairfield County standards) and is to be replaced by larger home, possibly a McMansion.

Now the concept of teardowns has reached a mansion on Long Neck Point Road—a four-story structure (if you include the attic, which has a number of windows) that looks relatively palatial even for that pricey neighborhood.

The mansion at 203 Long Neck Point Rd. (see attached map) is No. 22 on the Darien Assessor's Office list of the . The property has a tax assessment lower than only three other properties on that street (and another four properties on that street are also included among the top 50).

Storied past

It was first built in 1860, but in 1890 John Crimmins bought the property, after renting it for 11 years. A developer who ran a large company in New York City, he rebuilt and vastly expanded the house to roughly its present dimensions, according to a 2010 article in The Advocate of Stamford. The mansion became known as Firwood. He later bought some adjoining land to form a 18-acre estate.

Crimmins, who died in 1917, had helped found the mission chapel that became St. John Roman Catholic Church. He was also president of the Wee Burn Country Club. Mary C. Ewing (1922-2009) was the last member of the family to own the house.

The mansion and the land it sits on—or perhaps we should say the land together with the mansion currently sitting on it—was sold on June 20. According to the Trulia website, the owner of the estate had (at least, recently) a total of 4.73 acres at that location.

The property changed hands for $11.5 million, according to the record filed with the Darien Town Clerk's Office on June 26. The estate of Mary C. Ewing sold the property to ASL Partners LLC, 106 Main St., New Canaan.

Breaking it apart

A notice of demolition for the building, its backyard patio and swimming pool has been posted by the business in the front yard (see the picture attached to this article).

Permission to subdivide the property into two one-acre lots was granted by the Darien Planning & Zoning Commission back in February (see the board's minutes, from the bottom of page 14 through page 17 in the PDF attached to this article).

The mansion itself, apparently soon to be no more, sits relatively close to the road for that neighborhood, but it's so shrouded in trees that it's difficult to catch more than a glimpse of it (see the other pictures accompanying this article).

Opulent

The Trulia real estate website has nine photos of the interior and exterior of the mansion, showing grand views of Long Island Sound from the back and, inside,  elaborate inlaid-wood floors, gracious fireplaces, magnificent moldings, a beautiful bay window and the like. All goners.

Perhaps you'll see parts of it on display at United House Wrecking in Stamford.

According to Trulia, the 9,937 square feet of interior space in this single-family residence contains 13 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms and 20 rooms, overall.

"One hall bath has a floor of fir and an original clawfoot tub, and another has a half-wall of beadboard," Susan Nova wrote in her 2010 article in The Advocate. "Glass French doors open to more bedrooms down the hall, and there's an elevator that rises from the first level to the second."

The Advocate article has many more details, including the number of fireplaces (13) and footage on the shore of Long Island Sound (325 feet).

The siding on Firwood, Trulia says, is aluminum-vinyl.

brian hickey July 06, 2012 at 01:05 PM
The redevelopment of established communities has always been about evolution without intention for revolution - it's called infill and its purpose is to "build in and not out", reinvigorate and take advantage of the infrastructure already in place (utilities, schools, fire, police etc.) in viable ongoing communities - just build nice housing "everyone" likes and things usually work out fine :) Thanks, Brian

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