Borglum’s stonework etched into home’s history
STAMFORD — A square, stone-walled sitting room on the first floor of a home near the dead end of Rapids Road was once a fishing and hunting cabin.
Rumor has it that Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor responsible for Mount Rushmore, used to navigate that terrain along the rapids of the Rippowam River, where the one-room, circa-1920s structure sat alone for at least two decades.
A few stone creations along the riverbed, including a stairway to the cabin, are supposedly the work of Borglum.
Sometime in the 1940s, an entire home was built on the half-acre plot, and now sits the three-bedroom, 2,990-square-foot Cape at 38 Rapids Road. But the cabin remains, almost untouched, and serves as a sitting room off the first-floor master suite.
Jeff McLaughlin, who had ventured into Stamford from New York City in search of a nightly getaway from his fast-paced Wall Street job, came across the home in 1993.
“It was winter when I found the house, and I was standing in a bay window over the river looking out at the snow on the ground when a line of geese started walking up from the river,” he said. “That was beautiful. That’s what drew me in.”
His riverside home with its vast backyard that gently slopes down toward the riverbed gave him a new morning ritual after he moved in with his wife.
“Before I went to work on Wall Street, I would wake up a few hours early, and in my bathrobe I would go out and garden,” he said. “It was a nice way to start the day and be away from the stress of Wall Street.”
McLaughlin also commissioned an addition to the back of the house in 1998, creating a huge chef’s kitchen to nurse his cooking hobby.
“Where the kitchen is now used to just be a porch we weren’t using much anyway,” he said. “I liked to come home at night and cook, so I made a pretty elaborate kitchen.”
He made sure the kitchen had a treehouse feel, with huge windows overlooking the treetops, a wood-plank ceiling and massive wooden beams.
“I always loved that the house could bring the outside in,” he said.
A few years after adding the new kitchen and stone patio, McLaughlin acquired a small slice of land from his elderly next-door neighbor while she was selling her home because he was worried a new owner might take down his three favorite evergreen trees.
“I didn’t want anyone to cut them down on me, so I just bought them. It also means the property will always be a little more private because no one else can build there,” he said.
McLaughlin spoke wistfully over the phone about his Rapids Road home this week, as he sat 4,000 miles away in Pamplona, Spain. The former Stamford resident lives full-time in Berlin now, working as a consultant.
After five years of renting the home to tenants, he says he’s finally ready to let go.
McLaughlin brought on William Pitt Sotheby’s realtor Marge Benefico, who also owns a property management company, to give the house a quick face lift before putting it on the market for $650,000.
“I’d like to see the house continue to be taken care of,” McLaughlin said. “My wife and I put a lot of love into that house when we got to it and I hope to see someone else do the same.”