Address: 478 Harbor Road
MLS #: 99051309
Style: Antique, Colonial
Year Built: 1831
Square Feet: 5,931
Bathrooms: 7 Full & 1 Partial
Garage: 2 Car/Attached, Under
Basement: Crawl Space, Full, Heated, Interior Access, Unfinished, Walk-Out
The breathtaking estate known as Rose Hill is most often regarded as one of Southport Village’s most sought after homes. Majestically residing on 1.62 acres of prime real estate, this architecturally amazing Greek Revival home with its pediment gable and entry porch with columns does not disappoint! Sweeping lawn, mature landscaping and wonderful walkway leading to Harbor Road all make this home a very special offering. Authentic wide board flooring along with classic Greek Revival architectural appointments such as cornices, decorative pilasters and bold simple moldings abound throughout this 1831 estate.
Welcoming grand Foyer leads to the home’s two Living Room Parlors. Each room boasts 11 ft ceilings, marble fireplaces and large doors which separate the rooms. Dramatic views of the Country Club of Fairfield and the Long Island Sound are enjoyed from the formal French Doors opening out to the flagstone terrace encased in balustrades.
The Family Room/Den has marble fireplace, wet bar and powder room, additionally, there is a set of French Doors which leads out to the formal gardens. From the Family Room you will find the show stopping Solaria. Its octagonal shape surrounded by sliding doors offering views of the golf course and Long Island Sound has a wonderful gas fireplace. Glass doors lead to surprise indoor pool offering optimal entertaining opportunities!
Formal Dining Room boasts marble fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows, boxed molding, over-sized china closet and picture window overlooking pool. The heart of the home, the Kitchen, offers butcher block counters, ceramic back-splash, farm sink, Sub Zero Fridge, Thermador 6 burner cooktop, double wall oven and two dishwashers. Charming Dutch door and floor-to-ceiling field stone fireplace with bake oven compliment this Kitchen area.
Sweeping main staircase with mahogany banister leads gracefully to large second floor landing. Master Bedroom Suite includes views of the Long Island Sound, stately marble fireplace and large bathroom. Inviting Guest Room has many windows, fireplace and bathroom. Sweet Bedroom/Study has a Jack and Jill Bathroom that is shared by another Bedroom. Leading from the second floor landing is a staircase which leads to a third floor offering full bath and two separate Bedrooms with lots of storage.
Across second floor hallway is another charming bedroom with full bath and a door offering access to finished walk up Attic. This third floor includes a wonderful cedar closet and studio table.
Servants quarters lead seamlessly from the second floor offering two over-sized hallway closets, two bedrooms and hallway bath with laundry. A separate staircase leads conveniently down to Kitchen area.
478 Harbor Road’s splendor is enhanced by its proximity to Main Street’s shops, the train station and the historic Southport harbor. Rose Hill is undeniably a timeless masterpiece.
The History of “Rose Hill” Estate
The origin of the estate now known as Rose Hill is one that is intertwined with the histories of two of the area’s prominent founding families, the Wakeman and Sturges families, dating back 200 years. The name Rose Hill was originally given to two houses (a cottage and this Greek Revival), as well as, the surrounding land west of Southport Harbor.
The tale of this home begins with the history of the establishment of Southport. In 1680 the leaders of the Sasqua, Poqounock, Unquowa and Aspetuck Indians deeded a large parcel of land to the Town of Fairfield Colonial Freeholders. These farmers and merchants established this as the Mill River Plantation which is the area now called Southport. The two parcels of land that make up the current Rose Hill Estate (137 Rose Hill Road, .55 Acre and 478 Harbor Road, 1.07) were originally part of a larger plantation known as Ram Pasture. The title to this area was held by John Sturges and passed to his sons, Lewis B. and Jeremiah in the early 1700s.
Ram Pasture originally included most of the land on the upper west end of the harbor, between what is now River Street and Main Street. In the 1700s, this area was cleared and used as a sheep pasture, bordered by fences and stonewalls. These stonewalls ran along what is now Harbor Road. They became richly overgrown with Rambler Rose bramble bushes. They provided a gorgeous backdrop of small red and pink roses throughout the summer months.
Legend holds that the abundance of fragrant colorful blooms led to the area becoming known as Rose Hill. Interestingly, these Rambler roses can still be easily cultivated in this part of Southport if you allow them to naturally appear in a season or two.
Ram Pasture was subdivided in the 1750s by the Robinson and Thorp families; nearly all the pasture acreage was acquired by Jesup Wakeman in 1828. Jesup Wakeman was a shrewd businessman with many civic positions including a directorship of a bank in Bridgeport and Collector of Internal Revenue. He invested heavily in real estate, acquiring many properties in different areas of the country, after the Revolutionary War. As his fortune grew, he worked together with his son William Webb to develop a cargo shipping business along the Atlantic coast. The shipping business prospered and they were soon well known and respected in the business and social worlds of both New York and Southport.
In 1831, Jesup sold the central portion of the “Ram Pasture” to one of his sea captains, Ward Bulkley, who, with his wife Mary, built the cottage on Rose Hill. During the 1830s, on the southern most portion of the “Ram Pasture”, William Webb Wakeman built the Greek Revival main house now known as Rose Hill. While there were many Greek Revivals built during this time, and remain in existence today in Southport Village, this one is unique. Rose Hill’s facade has a two-story portico that stretches thirty feet across its front and is supported by four fluted Corinthian columns with carved acanthus leaves and rosettes.
Rose Hill became Wakeman’s weekend and later permanent residence. By Mid 1850s the family shipping enterprise moved to New York City. It had taken on a partner, Frederick Dimon, and expanded into the international shipping business.
Of historic interest, it is noted that at the outbreak of the Civil War, all the vessels for the Wakeman lines: Wakeman, Dimon & Company, Gookin and Dickinson, and the Star Line, were commissioned by the federal government to transport troops and equipment for the Union Army.
The Wakeman family prospered, with shipping interests so diverse that they constituted a near monopoly along the Atlantic Coast. When William Webb Wakeman died, the Rose Hill mansion passed to his widow and later to a descendant, Charles M. Taintor, who developed a small farm on the surrounding property. Successive owners have restored and expanded the main house to its present appearance.