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Ridgefield house has secrets

September 28, 2017

RIDGEFIELD — When the house at 100 South Salem was built in 1890, workers would travel from the servants’ quarters next door through a secret underground tunnel.

The passageway still exists, but traffic between the two structures was cut off when the property was divided and different owners took possession. The carriage house was also separated from the original estate, and for a time was rented by Bette Midler.

The 10,200-square-foot main house is a white colonial with terraced windows, blending elements of the formal lifestyle in the late 1800s with the casual feel found in homes today.

”I don’t find this to be a super, stuffy formal house,” said Jennifer Leahy, the listing agent for the property. “It’s really fun.”

Many details of the house are original, such as the wooden floors, or designed to blend with the architecture of the time, Leahy said.

The biggest change the current owners made was to replace the pool at the side of the house with a circular driveway and create a new main entrance on the first floor. Adding the new entrance also created a front-to-back center hallway. A chandelier hangs from an original ornate ceiling molding at the center of the hall.

They also added a porch off of the kitchen where they would have a lot of their meals, Leahy said.

Just off the hallway are a formal dining room with a window seat and a formal living room with a grand hearth.

“It’s really a focal point of the home,” Leahy said.

A library with bookcases lining one of the walls and a pub with a fireplace also branch off of the central hallway. A dog door at the base of the bookcase in the pub opens in the breakfast nook.

The kitchen has been completely redone to create a large space with features useful in feeding the family’s six kids and entertaining their many party guests, including a large island, a double stove and double sinks.

The original entrance is still accessible on the lower level, which now opens to a dance studio complete with a wall mirror and ballet barre.

“This was their main play space,” Leahy said of the owners’ five daughters, all of whom were dancers.

Most of the living space is on the second floor, which includes the master bedroom and six bedrooms as well as a three-season porch. Each of the bedrooms also has its own bathroom, except for two that share one bathroom. There are also bedrooms in the attic and on the first floor.

Several families have lived in the main house during the home’s 127-year history, with most living there for at least 20 years. Each family also had at least five kids.

”It’s definitely a property where a lot of kids can run around,” Leahy said, adding the current family’s children would catch snakes and fish in the pond.

The house sits on 10.2 acres, which includes a pond with a bridge and a tennis court.

The property is on the market for $3 million.