Acreage affords room to play

The COVID-19 pandemic inspired homebuyers to think about their wish lists in new ways and to realign their priorities. Some wanted at-home amenities; others place home offices at a high premium. Pools were popular anew, and having some land came back in vogue.

Ann Bergendahl is the owner-broker of Willow Properties in Mystic. She's noticed how buyers' priorities have evolved. Generally speaking, they're looking for larger homes with more square footage and home office space, she affirmed.

"We have seen a huge increase in people coming from more populated areas to our little corner of the state," she said. "More land, pools and outdoor living areas have been very popular, as well."

One of Bergendahl's current listings is a unique property with more than six acres of land at 435 Military Highway, Groton.

"This property is truly special for many reasons," Bergendahl explained. "It is located on 6.31 acres, with a slight slope upwards from the Thames River." The land was once a working farm, and some relics of that remain today — the stone foundations of a former barn and, perhaps, a root cellar remain on the site.

A maple tree-lined drive leads to the main house, built in 1880 and one of two residences on the property. It has four bedrooms and 2,422 square feet of living space.

"There is a three-story main home that has many original, charming features still in place," the listing broker said. "It has a new roof and a newly rebuilt forced hot-air heating system. The plumbing and heating were reworked about 20 years ago. Most of the old trim, wainscotting, paneling, built-ins, door, windows and floors are intact. The interiors are ripe for a redesign, and Bergendahl suggested, "The apartment over the garage is move-in ready and could be a place for the new owner to reside while they complete the main house."

The garage apartment has one bedroom and 864 square feet of living space.

"The location of this property is quite hidden and private," the broker noted.

Besides privacy, the property also delivers fascinating views.

"The sunsets over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Connecticut College are usually preceded by the cadets having their daily sailing practice, or perhaps a submarine floating by," Bergendahl said. "These spectacular views can be seen from almost every window in both homes on the property. The Groton submarine base can be seen to the north, and the Gold Star (Memorial) Bridge and out to Long Island Sound to the south."

A compound in Stonington

Katy Fetherston is a Realtor with Randall Realtors, a Compass affiliate in Mystic, and the listing agent for 2 Rose Lane, Stonington, a property with 6.7 acres of land.

"It's a unique property — a family compound," Fetherston suggested. "You have the main house, which is just a little under 3,300 square feet, with five bedrooms, (four) baths, an artist's studio with a kitchenette, bath and loft, and then a small apartment with a kitchenette and bath off the garage."

The main house was built in 1930, in Georgian Revival style. It has been updated in recent years, but still retains its classic characteristics, according to Fetherston. It has five bedrooms, four baths and 3,287 square feet of living space. The landscaping around the house strikes a balance between open spans of lawn and a dotting of colorful, mature shade trees.

"The location is great — right off Route 1, five minutes to downtown Mystic and the train station, and five minutes in the opposite direction to Stonington Borough," the listing agent said.

Fully renovated farmhouse, with coastal frontage

Broker Michael Foley, who's affiliated with the Old Lyme brokerage of William Pitt Sotheby's, represents the seller of 49 Brainerd Road, East Lyme, another distinctive home with an abundance of land — 51.31 acres, precisely. The property is positioned between Giants Neck and Black Point in the community of Niantic. Foley, who grew up nearby, said the house is tucked away down a dead-end road.

The property was owned by members of the same family for more than 200 years, and when it came up for sale about 14 years ago, Foley recalled, a Niantic local jumped at the chance to acquire it. The original house dated to 1890, but the new owner gutted, rebuilt and expanded it, while retaining some of the original building and design materials, like moldings and hardwood flooring. But, in effect, it was a newly constructed home.

Today, the modern farmhouse comprises four bedrooms, an open-plan great room just off the kitchen, and 3,285 square feet of living space. Plus, there's a large outbuilding, with garaging for four cars, a workshop and storage space.

The lot is embraced by water, the Pattagansett River on one side and a tidal estuary on the other, both leading out to Long Island Sound's open water. There's a small dock in place, where residents can drop in canoes, kayaks or paddle boards.

The acreage presents opportunity for the next owner and residents. It could be maintained as it is, pristine and pretty, or it could be reinvented and used as an equestrian estate, Foley suggested. There's plenty of level, open fields to add a barn, stables and paddocks.

Niantic's town center and Main Street is close by, so conveniences, the boardwalk and a vibrant culinary scene are within quick reach. Back at home at 49 Brainerd Road, the acreage provides a bucolic buffer and a quiet, coastal retreat.

"There's a feeling when you're at this property that you'd never know anyone else was close by," Foley said. The asking price for 49 Brainerd Road is $1.75 million.

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