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Old Greenwich house offers the feel of a country estate

February 8, 2018 GMT

GREENWICH — Some houses in Greenwich are firmly rooted in the past, while others are very much of the present moment.

Some also have a dual quality: maintaining roots in both the past and present. The house at 11 Ricki-Beth Lane is one of them. Built in 1896 as the caretaker’s house at the sprawling Croftleigh estate, the house has been given numerous makeovers to make it commensurate with a 21st-century lifestyle.

When co-owner Steven Hirsch looks outside, he gets a sense of an old New England estate.

“There’s a lot of history in it, and when you walk outside you have these old stone walls, and a beautiful piece of property,” he said, “It’s convenient to town, but it feels remote.”

The house has been through several renovations, expansions and upgrades over the years. “We tried to maintain the character of the home, but it’s very comfortable, very warm and comfortable,” said Hirsch.


The area of Old Greenwich was developed by Joseph Dillaway Sawyer, a wealthy Bostonian merchant. On old farmland, he created a planned community for people of discernment who preferred country living in the English tradition. The house on Ricki-Beth Lane was part of the original estate. The name of the street was bestowed by one of the community’s early residents, Lou Nierenberg, in honor of his granddaughter, Ricki-Beth Kovacs.

A number of notable residents and visitors have passed through Croftleigh over the decades. The parents of band leader Guy Lombardo, Gaetano and Angeline, lived there from 1935 to 1956. Lee Strasberg, the actress and acting teacher, was a regular visitor, as was Paul Robeson, the singer and performer, according to research by a resident, Geoffrey Lynfield, who died in 2013.

Barbara Hindman, the listing agent for the property, said the house has character. The kitchen and great room feel contemporary, she said, while other sections are more traditional.

“The house has been renovated and expanded, it’s got a new kitchen. And there are elements of the original house that have been preserved. It combines the charm of a turn-of-the-century home and modern conveniences,” said Hindman. “And good flow for a busy family.”

Sawyer, the original 19th-century builder, planted hundreds of trees, shrubs and flowers on the farm. The goal was to create a sense of a country estate that emulated English traditions.

“The property is lovely, nestled among the grander estates of Hillcrest Park,” said Hindman, “And it’s really tucked away. A lot of privacy.”

The area is very walkable, with little vehicular traffic — “very peaceful,” she said.

The house is part of the Hillcrest Park neighborhood association, which holds social events through the year.

The house is listed at $1.995 million through Sotheby’s International Realty.