Eclectic Riverfront Antique / Barn – $1,425,000

130 Lyons Plain Road, Weston, Connecticut 06883
This Eclectic Riverfront Retreat is part Antique and part Barn. 
It is located in the picturesque town of Weston, Connecticut – known for its top-ranked schools, old-fashion values yet sophisticated lifestyle.Stone patios … covered porches … terraces … perennial gardens … level play areas … mature trees: this property is a “sanctuary” in today’s modern world.It’s within quick and easy commuting distance to New York City (via Metro-North train, I-95 or three minutes from the Merritt Parkway).The property itself is an amazing “Antique Riverfront Retreat”.Set on the widest part of the Saugatuck River, you can canoe, kayak, fish and swim off the home’s private dock.It’s nearby Westport’s unique shops, restaurants , art galleries, organic stores (like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s), and seasonal farmer’s markets.About half of the house is actually a reclaimed barn from Pennsylvania that was added to the main house as space for a new family area and commercial kitchen. It overlooks the river and almost two acres of land.(Scroll down beneath pictures for even more description.)
You’ll also find a Pantry, and Butler’s Pantry; a Scullery where you can prepare your meal; a comfortable Dining Room, as well as an Office, and of course, a Den.The other half of the main house was once a “Workers Cottage” for the famous Bradley Edge Tool Company and Mill (see reprinted article below). The original 1830’s home has been carefully preserved and restored, including the antique hardwood flooring.But, it has also been updated with luxurious baths and modern amenities, including an alarm system, central air conditioning, both a deer fence and invisible fence.And, the full basement – unusual in an Antique – has been configured to accommodate a bathroom and Wine Cellar.Upstairs, you’ll find four bedrooms with ample closet space—another rarity in an Antique.The Master Bedroom features a swank Spa Bath with a frameless glass shower and a claw foot tub set under a cupola skylight…. Imagine yourself in a relaxing bath graced by a bay of windows with calming river views.  Equally enjoyable is the view from the covered back porch. Just imagine yourself on a lazy afternoon … with an autobiography… OR gazing at leisurely ducks and heron … paddling along the River.There is also a separate, detached Timber Frame BARN. It’s a perfect space for a home business, party room, gym or more. It has separate electric, phone, cable, heat and air conditioning; even a septic system in place. With garage bays and tons of storage, the modern barn is constructed with authentic traditional post and beam construction, hand-hewn with “Mortise and Tenon” joinery … and Pine floors, beams and woodstove.ABOUT THE BRADLEY EDGE TOOL COMPANY & MILL
Reprinted from the Weston Historical SocietyThe factory located on Lyons Plains Road near the intersection of White Birch Road was started by Gershom W. Bradley. It was the strongest and longest lived of Weston’s industrial concerns. Operating from about 1834 until 1911, the Bradley Edge Tool Company was rebuilt after the devastating flood of 1854 when the Saugatuck River rose over its banks and destroyed the factory. The Bradleys bought imported steel and used water power to fabricate and crying a large variety of high-quality axes, carpenters tools, knives, and machetes. At its peak from 1860 – 1870, the company employed 70 men who lodged in small tenant houses nearby. Ultimately, a gloomy local economy, the introduction of steam technology, and high transportation cost spelled defeat. The factory burned in a fire on May 1, 1911, and the property was sold to Bridgeport Hydraulic Company.

Reprinted from “Articles from The Chronicle Quarterly” (1995)

Lyons Plain Road was named for the Lie in family who came to America from England in the 1600s. Some of the family settled in Weston on the plain in the Southeastern section of town. Among the family members, Captain Ephraim Lyon served in the Revolutionary War. Frank Lyon lived in the duplex house most recently owned by Irv Patchen.

At the northern end of Lyons Plain Road is the former Tom Banks Tavern dating back to the 1700s. The tavern was famous all over the countryside when ROM sold for three cents a glass. The building was used for many purposes such as auctions, theatricals, caucuses and dances. It was especially well known for its popular sleigh riding parties. Old diaries show that people came from as far away as Bridgeport and neighboring towns to enjoy an evening in the dance hall. Sleighing was also popular among the girls, and they would stop along the roads at every in and have a dance. The girls usually drank Madeira and the boys took “flip” the most popular ROM drink of the times for which Tom Banks was famous. Frank Lyon recalled, “there was a lot of heavy drinking, but they didn’t abuse it as they do now. A man drank and were then, now they just drink.” (Quoted from an article appearing in the Bridgeport Post around 1932.)

In the early 1900s, the tavern was occupied byAlbert Gerhardt whose father, Philip, had purchased it from the second Tom Banks. Philip remodeled the tavern into a charming home. The Tap Room was left intact with its 10 foot wide fireplace, it’s been found at the back rather than at the side as are those built after 1750. The old ballroom where square sets were danced to the tunes of fiddling paddlers, was turned into bedrooms. The home has changed hands since then and other changes made, but it’s charm and secrets remain.

At the southern end of Lyons Plains Road sits an old cobblestone house built in 1914 by Dominico Castiglia. Mr. Castiglia came to America in the late 1800s and settled in Manhattan. He met and eloped with Virginia Esposito in 1905 and shortly thereafter he formed a partnership with John Delarmy who owned a home in Weston. Mr. Castiglia (shortened to Casetll for business purposes) and Mr. Delarmy set up business in New York City where they produced exotic ostrich plumes, a most popular accessory of the day.

It is believed Dominico became enamored by the countryside in Weston and in 1914 he purchased 25 acres bordering the Aspetuck River and north along Lyons plain Road. At the time there were no houses on the road with the exception of the old home at the corner of Route 57 and Lyons Plains Road. The Unitarian Church was not there and there were no side streets (Riverfield, Little Lane or Coley Drive). The road in those days was unpaved and a grand mess in rainy weather. The original bridge over the Aspetuck River is now covered with brush and was replaced by a new bridge and paved road about 1945.

Dominico and his wife decided to build their home and during the construction rented a small house in Weston, about 1 1/2 miles north of their property. (This small house had been moved from the Aspetuck Reservoir area in 1775 by a team of oxen, and served as a store for years before it was converted into a house.) Each day the Castiglias would walk from their house to the building site to work and supervise friends and relatives were helping. Most of the work was done by hand and the final result was a home almost like a fort. A thick foundation of cement and cobblestones and room walls of stone produced windowsills 9 inches deep and ceilings 9 feet high with a decorative cornice of plaster that would cost a fortune to produce today. The house included the usual kerosene lamps, wood stove, a hand-dug well, and the little house in the back with the half-moon on the door. An old business ledger reveals the dissolution of the partnership (which had been converted to making buttons) around 1912. With all the land they owned, the family decided to try their hand at farming. They sold eggs and farm produce, but with the times and their lack of experience, they were unsuccessful. To support their growing family of four children (Marion, Frank, Laurie, and Virginia), Mrs. Castiglia started taking in bus loads of borders from New York, sometimes as many as 80 at a time.

Despite hard times, there were some lighter moments for the family. During a hard winter one of their horses passed away. The digging was very difficult but they managed a hole of sorts. They rolled the horse into the hole and were astonished to find that his legs stuck up above the ground. They solved the problem by sawing off the legs of the wars and laying them in the hole. On another occasion, Mrs. Castiglia was driving along the Merritt Parkway when she hit a deer and killed it. She immediately thought of all the venison for her family and she wrestled the deer into the car. By the time she arrived home the deer had regular mortise and they had a terrible time getting the carcass out of the car. Many laughs have been shared by family and friends over these stories through the years.

One of the most amusing stories about Lyons Plain was documented by Ronald Mansbridge who moved to Weston and 1947. He wanted to have some letterheads printed with his new address, but looking at old maps he found that the street was spelled three different ways, “Lyons Plains”, “Lyons Plain” and “Lyon Plain Road”. Being very confused, Mr. Mansbridge wrote a letter to the State Highway Department in Hartford. His reply did not clear up the confusion as they based their information on “the Land of Steady Habits” which does permit the continuance of inconsistencies such as he had stated.

Consequently, Mr. Mansbridge wrote to the Department of the Interior and Washington Director of Geographical Names. A reply came from Mr. Sears stating that they had no information on this name other than a Geological survey map of 1889, which showed the locality as “Lyon Plain” and a Corps of Engineers map which shows it as “Lyons Plain”. A week later Mr. Mansbridge received a formal card informing him that the names would be on the docket of pending cases and that he would receive information when final action had been taken.

Suddenly a shock came to Mr. Mansbridge. The Board of Geographic names sent a release to the newspapers about their current decisions. Unfortunately the New York (known for its inaccuracies) reported that a suggestion had been made that the name of the Town of Weston be changed to Lyons Plain. The Westport Town Crier picked up the story and carried it on the front page “Mystery Request to Change Weston”. Mr. Mansbridge was duly quarter of five and imagined that if the identity of this mystery man was revealed, he would have been run out of town. Fortunately the next week’s Town Crier gave the true story and all was well. Finally in July the Board of Geographic Names published its Decision List. Our road was unequivocally declared to be “Lyons Plain Road”. So Mr. Mansbridge was finally able to order his letterheads.

(Original Ed note: my thanks to Mr. Mansbridge, Bruce Wilkens who was married to Virginia Castiglia, Louise Messex, Julia Studwell and Susan Feliciano for sharing their information with us.)