A Stone House with Lots of Warmth

Kristen Alexander acknowledges that her popularity among family and friends depends upon the season.

During the late winter and most of spring, visitors are few and far between to the New London home she shares with her husband, David Weber, and their two children.

But once the trees start leafing out and the waves kick up at nearby Guthrie Beach, the two-story stone house on Worthington Road turns into party central U.S.A.

"We are very popular in the summer," says Alexander, with a nod to the water only a few hundred yards from her back door. "And during the holidays, there are beds in every room."

That's because there's plenty of room. The six-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath house has large, airy rooms and is decorated with just enough furniture to make the space feel even more open. It also has unique features that makes the granite English manor look and feel lived in.

Three of the four bathrooms have ornate tile that was installed when the home was built during the late 1920s. A black cast iron box encased in a wall in the rear hallway was originally used to store milk and packages when the owners were away. Weber says the box was a pass-thru but was closed off when they renovated the home.

The original call system is also intact, with the indicator box and bell attached high to a kitchen wall.

"My son loves it. He likes to ring it when he's in the bathroom," says Alexander. "We removed the button in the center of the dining room floor because we don't have any servants."

Alexander and her family have owned the home since 2004 and have compiled a history about its former inhabitants, Dr. Henry Wellington and his wife, Eleanor. The couple built their steel post-and-beam home on three residential lots given by Eleanor's father, Fred Mercer, a local businessman and land owner.

When Eleanor was a child, her family survived a fire. That incident had tremendous bearing on the home she would live in as an adult.

"She designed the house in a near fire-proof capacity with an exterior stone structure ... with steel floor joists that support concrete floors on (the) basement, main floor, second floor and attic levels," says Alexander. The home also has gypsum block interior walls.

Although use of the material may seem cold and impersonal, from the outside, the stone adds to the home's regalness.

Just off the main hallway on the first floor, tucked behind a wall, is the former servants' quarters. The area has a full bath, which the couple is renovating, and a large bedroom that looks out onto the driveway.

The driveway, which faces Lower Boulevard, is nestled into a hill bordered by a stone wall on one side and a granite fence with encased planters along another. A smaller room in the wing is used for the children's play area.

"It could be a nice in-law suite," says Alexander, "and if a person had a lot of kids, and you could in this house, this would be great for an au pair or nanny."

The hangout spot on the first floor is the kitchen, which has a 40-inch by 108-inch reclaimed antique hard pine island and custom-made cabinets built by Weber. Light pours in from windows that run the length of the rear wall.

The outside panel of a kitchen closet was replaced with a chalkboard where the couple's daughter practices her letters and the family's weekly activities and appointments are listed.

Alexander says the work done on the kitchen wasn't intended, but it made sense since the majority of the house had to be restored.

In the spring of 2005, nine months after they bought the house, a pipe burst while they were away on vacation.

"We came home to a flood," she recalls.

For 18 months they lived in rented homes in the neighborhood while their home dried out. The process was completed by Munters Corporation, the same group that restored the Pentagon after it was heavily water damaged following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Although last renovated in the 1970s, the home's layout remains the same. Alexander says the first owner knew what she was doing in designing the second floor.

There, the living room gets the most use. With a fireplace at the front of the room, the open floor plan is ideal for relaxing with the family. But the highlight of the space is the spectacular views.

"You can see the river, the sound and the lighthouse," she says.

A balcony off the room connects to the master bedroom, which has two closets. A private bathroom has a small alcove for the toilet, along with a separate bath and glass-encased shower. It's made of black tile.

On the other side of the staircase are the children's rooms, their bathroom and a door that leads to the attic, which has a built-in cedar closet.


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