Distinctive Homes

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HOMES of the East Bay & South Coast

WINTER 2020/2021


WINTER 2020/2021

of the East Bay & South Coast A supplement to the East Bay newspapers

Welcome We are excited to present you with the inaugural edition of Distinctive Homes of the East Bay & South Coast. We plan to make this a semiannual focus on the upper levels of the real estate and related services markets in this region. Why now, during a global pandemic? Because the secret is out. While those of us living here have always known this is an amazing place to live, the rest of the world is quickly discovering it. As you’ll see inside, interest and home prices are surging higher in these waterfront communities, with many buyers leaving Boston, New York and California to live here. Many others are turning summer getaways into year-round homes, and making investments in the East Bay of Rhode Island and South Coast of Massachusetts. Within these pages are spectacular properties for sale, recently sold or recently renovated, and they all offer some combination of history, ocean views, privacy, green space and luxurious living. Enjoy our first tour through the Distinctive Homes of this region. There is much to discover, admire and appreciate. MATT HAYES Publisher, East Bay Media Group

5 ON THE COVER: This Little Compton home has no peer in this region — see how agent and seller spent three weeks determining its value.




Iconic Oasis The Telephone Building in historic downtown Newport is one of a kind — a blend of contemporary elegance and historic charm.

The Southcoast Surge Prices are soaring along the South Coast, as urban residents leave the big cities for green spaces and ocean breezes.


Spectacular Sealands


Historic Homes

One of Little Compton’s most coveted oceanfront estates passes from one family to the next, changing hands for the first time in nearly 40 years.

After living in two beloved museums and her fair share of historic homes, the author has a unique perspective on the real meaning of ‘sweat equity.’

The Art of the Ask Pricing homes at the top of the market is part science, part instinct. Some of the area’s experts share their insights.


A Recipe for Success


The Highs of 2020

A local designer talks about what goes into a successful remodel, featuring a new kitchen in an historic East Side home.

These magnificent properties set the high marks for 2020. See the top sales in every community from Barrington to Dartmouth.

Renee Welchman spent three weeks researching and working with the seller to determine the asking price for this totally unique Little Compton home — $7.85 million.

The Art of the Ask BY SCOTT PICKERING Try figuring out the value of a four-bedroom Colonial in Barrington or a two-bedroom condo in Bristol. It’s pretty easy. Adjusting for the variables of location and condition, you can easily find 100 comparable properties — “comps,” as they’re commonly known — that have sold in the recent past. Now try figuring out the value of a 10,000-square-foot mansion nestled in a private compound overlooking the ocean in Little Compton or Middletown. Good luck finding the comps. So how do agents and sellers

decide where to set the price for a property most would consider priceless? Is it science? Is it real? Is it instinct? Is it wishful? Yes. It’s everything. Three agents working at the top of the market talked about the secret sauce — that combination of research, experience and raw instinct — that guides them as they price the rarest of properties. A HOUSE LIKE NO OTHER Broker Renee Welchman of Welchman Real Estate Group faced one of the toughest pricing decisions of her life not long ago. The property named

“Brutaliste sur Mer,” recognized as one of the most unique and spectacular homes anywhere in Southern New England, was coming on the market for the first time. Simply put, there is nothing else like it. Rising from a hilltop across from Sakonnet Vineyards in pastoral Little Compton, it is a piece of art, fashioned in a style reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright. Some of the locals reject it as too stark a contrast from the farmhouses and oceanfront villas of the region, but it is a home like no other. The current owners built it as a blend of luxury living, state-of-the-art Continued on page 6

Midge Berkery sold this home on Adams Point in Barrington for $2.25 million. “It’s such a beautiful home, and it had everything … a dock, some privacy,” she said. They got the price right — it listed and sold quickly with more showings than they would typically see.

technology and devotedly eco-friendly design. It has no peer. Asking price: $7,850,000. “It took me three weeks to wrap my head around this,” Welchman said. “The first part was a three-hour consultation, where we went room by room, and we talked about absolutely everything. Not only is the location spectacular, but everything in this house is spectacular, and everything is eco-friendly.” They did a deep dive into the design, the materials, the eco-friendly features. Then Welchman went off to do her research. An accountant before she was an agent, Welchman loves digging into the numbers. Though the house has no comps in Little Compton, she found comps around the country. “The owner was really helpful. He designed this house, he general-con-

tracted it, and he’s built several of these. So he was asked to consult not long ago on a similar house in Lincoln, Mass,” Welchman said. That house recently sold for $5.9 million, and it was just a shell — not finished on the interior. Taking the analysis a step further, they contacted multiple contractors familiar with this type of construction who estimated another $3 million to $4 million to finish it. Then Welchman researched the architect’s other projects, several of which are in Connecticut. She looked at what those properties sold for. Then she looked at similar properties on Long Island, in The Hamptons. She called brokers in those areas and asked for their insights. Finally, she had a few raw numbers in front of her. “I sold him the land, and I know what that’s worth today.

He built the house, so he knows the true cost value,” Welchman said. Put those two numbers together, and it’s a foundation for a price. Yet despite all the research and all the data, the final number is still a leap of faith. “In the end, yes, there is a gut feeling to it. I know what the market will bear,” she said, but that remains theory until it is proven. “In this particular case, there’s probably just one buyer for this property. And we’re trying to find that one buyer and start a conversation.” THE BARRINGTON SCENE Midge Berkery of Mott & Chace Sotheby’s is one of the top agents in Barrington, and she often works at the high end of the market. Though Barrington is known as one of the most exclusive communities in the Continued on page 8


Discover a distinctive home in one of the region’s most distinctive communities...

“Cap de Blanc” — Where land meets sea

A magnificent oceanside home on 1.3 sprawling acres in the private Chace Point association. Custom built by the current owner, this home was thoughtfully designed to capture the stunning panoramic ocean views from every room; providing luxurious seaside living and fine entertainment experience. The main residence boasts 5 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms, and 1 half bath, a Spa Suite, Steam Shower, and Jacuzzi Tubs. Gourmet meals can be prepared in a fully equipped Chef’s Kitchen or dedicated caterer’s kitchen. Relaxation is enhanced with B&O Surround Sound, 4 fireplaces, oceanside decks and balconies, and access to the lower terrace area for playing games. The home also includes a private 1-bedroom, studio-style guest suite over the 3-car garage. This residence is complete with access to a private beach. $3,895,000

Renee Welchman

Owner, Associate Broker, Listing and Buying Specialist


WelchmanRealEstate.com 401.635.0252 47 Valley Road Middletown | 18 Commons Little Compton Each office is Independently owned and operated

region, its real estate market never reaches the heights of places like Middletown, Jamestown or Narragansett. Perhaps the difference between “bay-front” and “oceanfront” is worth a few million dollars, as those other places often see sales north of $10 million, while the most expensive sales in the history of Barrington have been between $4 million and $5 million. Nonetheless, setting prices north of $2 million requires the same blend of science and instinct. “There are always some comps available,” Berkery said. “There are always one or two that I can look to.” She relies on those comparisons, as well as deep, intimate knowledge of the town. And though most people would consider a $2.5 million home as the domain of folks who don’t fit the profile of the typical nuclear family in Barrington, that’s not always the case. Berkery sees many families, even at this high end of the market, looking at Barrington for its schools and its community vibe. “We’re definitely seeing people calling from New York or Boston or even California,” she said. “They’re looking at these beautiful homes, and they’re willing to spend money.” Given the interest from buyers, and the ongoing shortage of inventory, Berkery said this is a time to be a little more aggressive with prices, within reason. She believes the pool of Barrington buyers is deep up to about $2.5 million, but it gets much shallower past that price. Having said that, the right property, in the right condition, with the right waterfront access, dock, etc. could sell for north of $3 million in this market. They just need the listings. “I’ve got tons of buyers, but there isn’t much out there,” she said. THE AQUIDNECK SCENE Kate Greenman of Gustave White


This Newport home, set on the highest point on the island with spectacular views in all directions, spent almost two years on the market before it sold this summer for $6.65 million. Agent Kate Greenman said buyers for a place like this are very smart and will know the right price for these exclusive properties.

Sotheby’s has been involved in the highest sales in both Middletown and Portsmouth this year. She follows a process that always begins by spending extensive time with the property and the sellers. Next come the comps, as well as feedback from other Realtors and colleagues. On Aquidneck Island there are always comparable sales, and this year, with the surge in interest throughout the region, there are more than ever. But the final price still comes down to something intangible — a combination of instinct and feel. Set it too high and you potentially harm the perception of the property. Set it too low and you potentially leave lots of money on the table. “There are times when you reach, thinking something is so great, and the market tells you differently,” Greenman said. A few years ago, she listed and sold the Newport home that Judge Judy bought. But their first price was wrong. “We came up

with a price, and it wasn’t right. We were a few million dollars off,” she said. After many years in the business, she has a very high perception of the buyers at this end of the market. “These buyers are really smart people, they understand the markets, and I don’t think they tolerate you inflating these prices.” Of course this year the market may have tipped toward the sellers. “I feel like our well kept little secret is out, especially for out-of-state buyers,” Greenman said. “I have seen more buyers from California this year than ever before.” Greenman said she and her colleagues always analyze the inventory. “We’re always looking at the supply,” she said. “The supply was decent at the beginning of the summer, but it is greatly diminished now.” Lots of buyers and low inventory … it’s a formula for those high prices to remain high.

Gustave White


Local Knowledge, Global Network

PORTSMOUTH: ‘Coastal Living Idea House’ at Carnegie $3,495,000 – Dina Karousos 451.6461

PORTSMOUTH: Sweeping Sakonnet Water Views – $1,395,000 Gloria Dunn 846.2955

PORTSMOUTH: Three Acres on the Sakonnet – $3,900,000 Tina Wiley 447.9609

TIVERTON: Luxurious Water Views in Private Community – $1,095,000 Thomas Little 245.3600

LITTLE COMPTON: Fabulous Custom Home on Acreage $1,275,000 – Bridget Torrey 575.6522

PORTSMOUTH: Stunning Sakonnet Views Near Beach – $1,480,000 Dina Karousos 451.6461

PORTSMOUTH: King’s Grant 5-Bedroom With Water Views $1,750,000 – Dina Karousos 451.6461 LAND

TIVERTON: Waterfront New Construction $975,000 Bridget Torrey 575.6522

MIDDLETOWN: Easton’s Point Shingle Style Near Beach – $2,400,000 Paul Leys 862.6706

SO. TIVERTON: ‘SeaSmoke Landing’ Waterfront Lots on 12 Acres – $1,250,000 Jessica Chase 864.3596

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The spectacular loft-style owner’s unit is contemporary in feel, yet retains historic elements, abounding in repurposed materials, exposed brick, oversized windows, and artisanal encaustic cement tile inserts.

A contemporary, historic oasis In a city known for unique and historic homes, “The Telephone Building” in downtown Newport remains one-of-a-kind. Designed by Boston architects Perkins & Betton, the team behind the famed King Block on Newport’s storied Bellevue Avenue, the building at 142-146 Spring St. was constructed in the late 19th century in Beaux-Arts style with a brick and


limestone façade. The property was sensitively restored and converted into a residential building consisting of a spectacular loft-style owner’s unit and a separate first-floor apartment. This unit lends itself to a live/work lifestyle, with a first-floor space that is ideal for an at-home office or gym. A floating staircase leads from the loft

to an intimate rooftop salon that opens to a dramatic deck and green roof garden overlooking Trinity Church, downtown, and the Newport Bridge and Harbor. A separate two-bedroom first floor apartment offers a cool mix of hardwood and polished concrete floors and its own Zen garden nestled in the back of the property, creating an

A Zen garden in the back of the property creates its own urban oasis. Below, the intimate rooftop deck overlooks historic Trinity Church, downtown Newport and the harbor.

urban oasis. The property sold for $2,536,000 in November. The sellers were represented by Kate Rooney and Michelle Drum of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty. Annie Becker of Lila Delman Real Estate represented the buyer. This was the second-highest sale on Newport’s Historic Hill in the past five years. Kate Rooney said, “Michelle and I were honored to have the opportunity to represent the sellers of ‘The Telephone Building.’ They beautifully juxtaposed the old and the new in their meticulous renovation of this iconic property. There really is nothing like it in Newport. This transaction has been and will remain a highlight of our careers.” 11

Looking over Sealands on Warren’s Point, facing east-southeast toward Little Compton’s beaches and Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound, the islands and beyond.

A new chapter for spectacular Sealands BY BRUCE BURDETT It was among Rhode Island’s grand homes when it was built over century ago, and a much-changed Sealands is every bit as special today. The 8,018-square-foot house on five oceanfront acres at 82 Warrens Point Road sold recently for $7.3 million, the most expensive Little Compton sale since 2012. It features five bedrooms, eight

baths, patios, gardens, a pool overlooking the sea, and fireplaces crafted from limestone in Bath, England. But, as every owner along the way has said, the views are what sets this place apart. Virginia Merriman says that the house, which she describes as “not great” when she and her husband bought it in 1983, “was the highest priced house in Rhode Island, but

there was no place with such spectacular vistas around … We see far north beyond the beach, the pond and island with hundreds of swans in the summertime and then the beautiful curve of the beach. And looking east on a clear day we see Cuttyhunk in the foreground and then Martha’s Vineyard in the distance and looking south out to sea are the ships and large sailboats.” Continued on page 14


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1 Lister Drive Barrington $989,000 | 425.894.6344

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Warren $995,000 | 401.837.2355

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Barrington $1,079,000 | 401.225.0371

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Warren $679,000 | 401.447.2639

Barrington 401.245.9600

East Greenwich 401.885.8400

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Westport MA 508.636.4760

Cumberland 401.333.9333

Narragansett 401.783.2474

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The house they found on this magnificent location was but a shadow of what had once been. At the turn of the century, Eva Kingsley Davis McGowan, “elixir” heiress to the wildly popular and potent Perry Davis’ Pain Killer (concocted and fortified with opium and alcohol by Westport resident Perry Davis), bought 50 acres on the east side of Warrens Point Road, property that included what is known as Philippi’s Beach. A project of this magnitude was evidently no stretch for Ms. Davis. An 1893 newspaper account of her marriage notes, “Johnny McGowan has married into a share of the fortune that Perry Davis pain killer produced. Eva Kingsley Davis, a granddaughter of the medicine man, is the bride and her income is estimated at $800,000 a year, which must be better than anything that has

A large open porch with fireplace offers access to the sea breezes and views but shelter from the sun and rain — this is perhaps the sellers’ favorite spot.

Topsail Realty WHY YOU SHOULDN’T WAIT FOR 2021 TO SELL YOUR HOME! • You literally have a captive audience! • Demand from buyers is still sky-high! • Home values are up! • Interest rates are still historically low! • Inventory is still low! • The 2020 market is unprecedented!



332 Brayton Point Road, Westport, MA Unsurpassed Views of the Atlantic Ocean SOLD: $1,480,000 | MLS # 1245690

24 Little Harbor Road, Tiverton, RI Nature Lovers Paradise! Sold: $950,000 | MLS # 1246916

Well, all bets are off in the topsy-turvy world of 2020. That means the old rules of market timing don’t apply, because the habits and patterns they are based on don’t apply. There’s no reason to put off listing when all of the market indicators are in favor of it, and lifestyles and traditions are thoroughly altered. This provides a rare opportunity for you to put your home on the market without worrying about unfavorable timing. If selling your home has been a goal for you, you could still check it off of your list before you “Ring in the New Year.”

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befallen ‘Johnny’ in his twenty years of small political pickings.” She hired the renowned New York City architectural firm McKim Mead & White to design her house in just the right elevated spot for the best views and a measure of protection from storms. “The original Sealands house was larger — much larger than our house now. It had three floors and slept 18 to 20 people. The original servants’ wing is now our children’s bedrooms,” Mrs. Merriman told Cherry Arnold, sales associate for Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty who, with Judy Chace, represented the sellers. Ms. Arnold, who likes to delve into the history of properties she represents, said she got especially caught up in this one. “As a Little Compton native, I have admired Sealands my whole life.” It is “such a significant and beloved property … a truly treasured Little Compton estate.” Older residents of town sent the owners pictures and shared stories of “going to dinner parties at her house with a footman behind every seat of every guest. They dined watching the full moon out over the sea through the windows and described how dramatic and elegant is was.” Stone buildings that housed the chauffeur’s garage and laundry house are now neighbors’ homes. The property no longer, however, includes that beach. Mrs. McGowan deeded it to Dr. Truesdale, the story goes, when he came to her rescue one night and saved her life. “She was so grateful that she gave him the beach and all the land behind it,” Mrs. Merriman said. A headline in the April 4, 1931, New York Age newspaper describes what happened to the estate after Mrs. McGowan’s death: “Home Left For Use of Sick and Tired People.” The

story explained that she had left the house and remaining property to the Tired and Weary of the Episcopal Church — a restful and beautiful place for retired clergy to live out their lives. In 1949, the church sold the house to Max Huntoon, aka “the Mayor of Little Compton.” “He proceeded,” Mrs. Merriman said, “to knock down the main house because, he said, ‘It was too damn big to heat.’ He left just the servants’ wing, which goes east to west, and he added a little living room and a little master bedroom on the second level, and a little card room, and that is what we bought in 1983.” During his time there, Mr. Huntoon, who had a tree nursery, lined the driveway with black pines, a favorite feature that Mrs. Merriman said “made for a very dramatic drive up to the house.” One summer, she said her family

was contacted by University of Virginia architectural students who had found information about Sealands in the university’s McKim Mead & White archives. Those archives indicated that the house had been insulated with seaweed and they wondered if they could come look at the walls.” She told them that she doubted that there was much seaweed left in the walls “or I hope not.” Still, seaweed was important in those times — it was written into the deed that others on Warrens Point had the right to cross Mrs. McGowan’s property to gather seaweed. After the Merrimans bought Sealands, they hired architect Steven Lauren and built the lovely house that stands today. Their favorite room is the open “Ocean Porch.” Continued on page 16

This living room offers grand ocean views and garden access.


“The view is staggering, and at night we light big fires and sit out there after dinner for hours.” Sealand is a place of family memories — Swimming off the big rock in the day, collecting lobster pots by kayak, a daughter’s October wedding, the time their son shot his short film that went to Sundance called ‘So Good to See You’ … “We slept the whole crew here and the lead actress, Sienna Miller, arrived and left by helicopter in the front yard.” And they’ll remember the swallows that would migrate to the porch to build nests and lay eggs — they were furious when we came out and put out the porch furniture …” “It has always been a safe haven for all of us. We will remember a lifetime of happiness here.”

Sealands with its large pool and stone deck overlooking the ocean.

We are pleased to announce another expansion with our new location in Westport. Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty has long been the premier choice for Rhode Island luxury real estate and now we are taking that expertise to the next level by providing our clients in southeastern Massachusetts with the world-class service you would expect from a Sotheby’s International Realty® affiliate. We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors and becoming an integral part of our new community!

Where the country meets the coastline, we are the Farm Coast Real Estate experts. mottandchace.com/farmcoast Each office is independently owned and operated.




#1 IN BARRINGTON AND THE EAST BAY $48 MILLION IN SALES • 60 PROPERTIES SOLD In a year filled with challenges and uncertainty, we all are reminded of how important it is to love where we live, because home is where our heart is. Strong work ethic, attention to every detail, and enthusiasm enables this team to make this often emotional process of buying or selling a home seamless – all while delivering the best outcomes possible.


Let the KIRK | SCHRYVER team go above and beyond for you.


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*Ranking based in whole or in part on data supplied by Statewide Multiple Listing Service. The MLS does not guarantee and is not in any way responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. Based on information from Statewide MLS for 2020 as of September 2020.


“The client’s overall goal was to have a beautiful bright kitchen. However, they didn’t want it to feel sterile, so by introducing some wood and brushed brass tones we were able to add warmth to the space. The classic design really comes together with these modern elements that contrast the traditional architecture of the home.“

The recipe for success BY MIKE REGO A home renovation can be daunting. And as the old adage goes, the devil is certainly in the details. That’s where the professionals come in. Jennifer Voll has been helping redesign houses for 15 years. She, along with husband Chris, is co-owner of both Cypress Design and East Side Construction, East Providence-based firms that specialize in project on the historic East Side of Providence, where they’ve become one of the “go-to” renovation specialists. When taking on a project, there


are definitely a number of “dos” and “don’ts.” “Most people have no idea about how much it costs,” Jennifer said of renovations in general. “They watch HGTV and see it done in a half-hour, but it doesn’t give you a realistic idea of the actual cost. And that’s understandable, because most people will only remodel their kitchen or bath once in a lifetime. There’s a lot more that goes into it than what they think.” One of the most important — and first — conversations is about how much someone is willing to spend.

“Budget is always a tricky topic to approach,” Jennifer said. “We sometimes ask the client, ‘What number scares you? … What were you thinking of spending?’ If they say $20,000 and we know there’s no way we could do that, then we’re very, very upfront about it. We tell them that based on recent projects we’ve completed that are similar in scale to theirs, between the cost of materials and labor costs of a licensed and insurance contractor, they would need to increase their budget.” It’s a general rule of thumb, but

“The new eating area has beautiful windows that were originally lost in the prior kitchen. Creating a banquette allowed us to designate this area for the dining, since a large island was not an option given the existing walls. With this backsplash we were looking for a play on texture and pattern. The gray of the glass plays nicely off the light gray island and banquette, while accenting the gray veins in the quartz countertop. When using a Wolf range the red knobs are always a nice pop of color for the space. They stand out and really get your focus on the stunning appliance surrounded by beautiful details.”

not written in stone, that based on current market rates you should probably be spending between 10 and 12 percent of the value of your home on full bathroom remodel and for kitchens it’s between 12 and 15 percent. “If your home is valued at, let’s say $750,000, we don’t want to say you should spend $75,000 renovating your bathroom or your kitchen, but you could,” said Jennifer. “It all depends on the materials you want to use.” We asked Jennifer Voll about the design choices made in this kitchen makeover in an historic East Side home. Project designer was Craig Couture; contractor was Cunha Construction. 19

This Dartmouth property sold to a couple from California for about $1.8 million. They closed the deal without even seeing it in person.

The Southcoast Surge BY SCOTT PICKERING Will Milbury started his brokerage firm more than 40 years ago in Beacon Hill, the Back Bay and the suburbs of Boston. Through four decades, he’s seen just about anything and everything in the economy and in the real estate market. And then came 2020. “I’ve seen frantic markets, I’ve seen down markets … This year, I’ve never seen anything like it.” Years ago, Milbury moved his business to the south coast of Massachusetts, and Milbury & Company now has three offices, locally in South Dartmouth and Westport, and in 20

Cataumet on Cape Cod. By the time you’re reading this, they will have surpassed $100,000,000 in sales in a single calendar year for the first time in the agency’s history. The wild, hard-to-believe, never-before-seen anecdotes are endless. Milbury had a beautiful Colonial in South Dartmouth sitting on the market for almost three years. Then the pandenic hit and everything changed. “We had three full-price offers in one weekend, and it sold for over-asking,” Will said. The sale price for an elegant, five-bedroom Colonial on an acre of land: $1,795,000. That was early in 2020, and it was

just the beginning. COVID-19 had a dramatic impact on the real estate market. Urban professionals who learned they could work effectively from home decided it was time to get out of their high-priced, highly congested city environments and find someplace to live with green grass, a little distance from the neighbors and a great view of the water. The South Coast was suddenly wildly appealing — or more than ever before. “It started back in January, with people from New York and New Jersey who were looking for a winter rental,” Will said. Those folks were

seeing the very beginning of the pandemic and wanted to get out of Dodge. In a normal year, homeowners would jump at the chance to rent their summer homes to guests for the winter season. Not this year. Because of COVID-19, everyone said no thanks. “So then it quickly turned into people saying, ‘I’m working from home, the kids aren’t going to camp this summer, we’re not going to Europe or anywhere else … I might as well have two acres and a house by the water,’ ” Will said. So those would-be renters turned into buyers, and the phones started ringing. From New York. From California. From Boston. It’s almost like Will had the perfect career for this market. With decades of contacts and clients in the Boston area, he was the go-to

agent for many folks living in multi-million-dollar Back Bay condos and sharing an elevator with six of their neighbors several times a day. “There was a really strong, really quick reaction,” Will said. And there was more than just the virus at work. Many people who were suddenly isolating at home, stripped of most normal activities, had idle time to kill. So what to do when there is nothing to do? Click around the internet and daydream. And when the hectic pace of everyday life suddenly changes, focus can change too. “People started considering life changes,” Will said. “They started thinking, ‘Maybe we should buy that beautiful house down by the sea, near the cow pastures … Honey, let’s start looking.’ ” Back to the anecdotes about Continued on page 22

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2020 … Milbury recently listed a modest Cape in Westport. In one weekend it had 28 showings and 16 offers. The agency has sold four homes to California buyers. Two never even traveled east — they bought the properties sight unseen, including a waterfront property on Gulf Road in Dartmouth for $1.8 million. Milbury and his agents meeting regularly, and the tenor of those meetings has changed dramatically this year. They normally share intel and talk about their new listings coming soon to market. “Right now we have 26 properties under contract,” Milbury said. “At this time of year, that’s unheard of.” Instead of talking about new listings, they spend more of their time talking about their current group of buyers. They have plenty people looking to buy. They just need more people looking to sell.

This Dartmouth home sat on the market for three years — then Covid hit, and there were three offers in one weekend. It sold for over the asking price.

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Under Contract: 15 Oceanfront Acres $4,100,000

Sold: Beautiful Colonial with Views of Narragansett Bay


Sold: Bristol Waterfront Home with Dock


Under Contract: Acreage in Southeastern Massachusetts


Sold: 2-acre Estate with Direct Beach Frontage


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(401) 246-4198


Once a single-family summer residence, similar to the Newport Mansions, Blithewold is today a beloved treasure in Bristol, home (during non-pandemic times) to elegant outdoor weddings or a relaxing family picnic. The author and her family spent time living at the estate when she was growing up.

These old homes BY CHRISTY NADALIN I have never had a proper closet. That’s not a play for pity; it’s a fact. Back before retail therapy was a thing, when all washing was hand washing, people just didn’t have a lot of clothes. No clothes, no closets. And with the exception of a handful of years when I lived in an urban apartment the actual size of a closet, every home I’ve ever lived in dated to a period when people presumably kept one outfit on their backs and the other one in a trunk at the foot of their bed, next to that thing they used to heat the bed with hot coals from the fire. There’s a lot of give and take to living in an historic home. There’s the give in the studs that support the floors that squeak and make it impossible to sneak around, and there’s the take, in January when the gaps 24

around the decrepit window casings take the last of your body heat and kick you into hypothermia. Historic homes are tremendous, endless chores with millions of devotees across the country — and whether those of us who love them know something special, or just don’t know any better, is not always clear. LIVING WITHIN ART When you live in a historic home, complete with details like handcarved moldings, you literally live in a work of art, and whether you are consciously aware of it or not, that expectation persists. For the 40 or so months of my life that I lived in a DC-area “garden” apartment (so-called to distract you from the fact that you are paying stupid money to live in a beige shoebox) I found the space uncomfortably soulless. That is,

until one night, in a fit of pique (and, full disclosure, probably a couple of margaritas), Dean and I painted a faux crown molding in our living room. It was, sort of, like living in an old house, in that it gave and it took. It gave me comfort, and it took our security deposit. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a squatter at two historic properties, and the owner of one, as renters at Blithewold, staff at Linden Place, and the gerbil in the wheel of the lifelong commitment known as “sweat equity” — a phrase that’s as romantic in your twenties as it is chilling in your fifties. LIVING IN MUSEUMS Living at Blithewold when it was still a private summer residence, we would hide in the shadows the few weeks when Marjorie Lyon was in residence — not on Mrs. Lyon’s orders (she was

lovely, as I recall) — but on the orders of my mother, who has a typical New Englander’s overwrought sense of propriety. The rest of the year, my sister Cara and I ran around the property like a couple of Dickensian street urchins; the beaches, gardens, lily pond and trees were our playground. We’d run down the drive to the “Big House” and knock on the door until Mary and Tilly appeared in their starched black and white uniforms, gave us little glass bottles of Coca-Cola and let us ride the elevator in the mansion. We’d watch them putter in the flower-arranging room with its immaculate soapstone counters, then, if we were lucky, we’d catch a ride around the property in Ms. Lyon’s golf cart. My parents then took on the role of caretakers at Linden Place in the mid1970’s, about 13 years before it was opened to the public. Living at Linden Place as a fourth-grader attending Colt School made me a bit of a curiosity, I found. School gossips claimed my mother, meeting me at the end of the driveway in a hurry to get me to an after-school appointment, was actually a chauffeur sent to escort me the 50 yards or so up to the back door. A quick trip home over lunch and I was said to have turned up my nose at cafeteria pizza and dashed home for lobster. IT COMES WITH THE HOUSE “Does not convey” is a phrase in heavy use in the transactional world of real estate and virtually nowhere else. It usually refers to large appliances, light fixtures or other things that are better left in place. But old houses convey treasures of all kinds that remind us that we were not here first. The Hope Street home where my parents live today was once owned by a Civil War officer named Jacob Babbitt. His fire brigade bucket, with his name on it, remains ready for action by the front door. For years, a British cannonball fired into a Hope Street

old newspaper, the placement of which seems deliberate. We’ve put our own in when they’ve coincided with wall-opening projects: headlines announcing Princess Diana’s death in Paris, the Sept. 11 attacks, and the demise of Bin Laden are tucked in our walls awaiting some future sweat equity sucker. When the first COVID vaccines are distributed, we have some dry rot on the north side of the house that’s just waiting to immortalize 2020.

The author’s home in downtown Bristol, originally built 215 years ago, has both given, and taken.

home was said to have remained on display on the mantel just under the wall where it was embedded, as the property passed through several owners. Some things just belong to a house. Then there’s the stuff that unintentionally conveys. About 20 years ago, charmed by the prospect of having a beautiful Federal period home for low money and that aforementioned “sweat equity,” Dean and I bought our Church Street house. Since then, we have left nothing untouched, no wire replaced, no lead paint un-ingested. The house conveyed with a remarkable quantity of junk, much of it in the recesses of a large dirt basement full of calcified spider webs; we found seaweed and fossilized rodents in the walls. Every now and then, though, a real treasure conveys — a century-old medicine bottle, an old coin, an intact

A LIFETIME OF ‘SWEAT EQUITY’ Just the other day I woke from a wonderful dream that involved a massive mudroom full of bright white storage cubbies and coat hooks. After stumbling over a spongy floorboard, I came downstairs to the sight of a large horizontal crack on our front door casing. “Dean, what is this?” I asked. “A crack,” he said. “Why a crack?” “I don’t know. Maybe the front of the house is falling into Church Street.” As I rummaged through the basement hoping to find some paint to cover the crack, which I filled with some sort of caulk that I realized later was intended for application in a tile bathroom, and wondered when I’m finally going to snap and “go condo,” I was reminded of something someone said to me recently: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” She was talking about something else entirely, but it applies to old houses. These perfectly imperfect spaces contain both reminders of the past and opportunities to leave our mark on the future. It’s something I’m reminded of every day as I work at home in my kitchen counter, made of a very soft, very imperfect soapstone that I just had to have in my old house — because many years ago Tilly and Mary were kind enough to open the doors of the Big House and invite me inside. 25

The highs of 2020

This has been a wild, turbulent, emotional and unprecedented year, and the real estate market has been on a meteoric ride for most of 2020. Here are the highest sales in every community (through the first 11 months of the year).

Built more than 115 years ago, this quintessential New England Colonial on prestigious Adams Point sits on more than an acre of land overlooking Narragansett Bay. Sellers represented by Midge Berkery, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s. Buyers represented by Beth Anderson, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s.

WARREN | 25 Asylum Road

$820,900 26

BARRINGTON | 128 Adams Point Road


This custom Colonial in a private setting includes a backyard resort, with heated, saltwater pool. This was a private sale.

BRISTOL | 450 Poppasquash Point


This private estate on Poppasquash Point includes nearly three-and-a-half acres of land, a heated, four-car garage, a three-stop elevator and all the luxury one would expect. Sellers represented by Kristin Chwalk and the Kirk | Schryver Team, Residential Properties. Buyers represented by Raymond Mott, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s.

A tenacious agent who navigates the market with passion, Ryan is friendly, professional, high-energy and most importantly, honest — work with an agent you can trust

Your goals, my passion, let’s talk! Ryan M. Fonseca Associate Broker

401.489.0065 sellingwithryan.com 27

PORTSMOUTH | 10 Sea Stones Drive


MIDDLETOWN | 00 Indian Avenue

$14,300,000 28

This sanctuary overlooking the water includes a pool, whirlpool spa, gourmet kitchen, fitness room and deeded private beach. Sellers represented by Kate Greenman, Gustave White Sotheby’s. Buyers represented by Cherry Arnold and Kelly Holmes, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s.

Set on a perch overlooking gorgeous Middletown beaches and conservation land, this estate sold privately. Sale assisted by Kiki Mitchell and Kate Greenman, both of Gustave White Sotheby’s.

TIVERTON | 85 Nonquit Lane


This four-bedroom home and separate horse barn sit on four acres of lush farmland that roll down to unobstructed views of the Seapowet salt marshes and the Sakonnet River. Seller represented by Lindsey Duckworth, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s. Buyer represented by Phyllis Ibbotson, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s.

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Set behind a distinctive stone wall, this 8.5-acre parcel offers superb privacy and tranquility, on the water, with its own dock, plus two master suites. Seller represented by Sarah Meehan, Milbury and Company. Buyer represented by Will Milbury, Milbury and Company.

WESTPORT | 852 Drift Road


This impressive residence provides stunning water views of Padanaram Harbor/Buzzards Bay and includes an association beach, jetty, dock, and protected open spaces. Seller represented by William Milbury, Milbury and Company. Buyer represented by Kelly Rebello, Olde Dartmouth Real Estate.


LITTLE COMPTON | 82 Warren’s Point




This stunning oceanfront estate includes more than five acres on the east side of exclusive Warren’s Point and is elevated to take in the panoramic views of the ocean. It is considered to be one of the most spectacular locations in all of Little Compton. Seller represented by Cherry Arnold and Judy Chace, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s. Buyers represented by Cliff Carlson, Realty One Group.


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South Dartmouth $7,950,000 - Rare offering! Stunning 70+/- acre waterfront estate overlooking Padanaram Harbor. Rolling meadows, woodland trails, water frontage, dock potential. Stroll to Padanaram Village! Contact Will Milbury 508.525.5200

Westport $1,795,000 - The Paquachuck Inn . . . iconic Acoaxet Bed and Breakfast offers nine guest rooms, fabulous great room, commercial kitchen, waterside deck, garden, green house and 10-slip dock. Contact Will Milbury 508.525.5200

Nonquitt! $2,995,000 - Sophisticates summer living at its best. Five-bedroom, 5.5 bath, newly constructed home set on over an acres. Nonquitt amenities include sandy beaches, swimming pier, tennis and golf. Contact Will Milbury 508.525.5200

South Dartmouth $1,695,000 Contact Will Milbury 525.5200

Padanaram Westport

Westport $1,895,000 Contact Will Milbury 525.5200

Mattapoisett $1,395,000 Contact Will Milbury 525.5200

304 Elm Street, South Dartmouth, MA 02748 790 Main Road, Westport, MA 02790

Round Hill $785,000

Contact Maggie Tomkiewicz 508.995.2444

(508) 997 7400 (508) 636 2400

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