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    Real Estate
    Thursday, October 06, 2022

    A Norman Rockwell-life in Old Lyme

    Douglas Levin and his mother, Joan Levin, recounted the story of how Joan and her husband, Kenneth, first discovered the 1859-era home at 5 Academy Lane in Old Lyme, and made it their own 30 years ago.

    They'd both grown up in New York City, and once they'd married and started a family of their own, they'd spent some decades living abroad in Belgium, their son recalled.

    "After they'd lived in Europe for all those years, they really didn't know where to come back to," he said. "They were going to maybe go back to New York City, but it was 30 years later in life, and the world there had moved on. So, they decided to try to find a place somewhere between New York and Maine.

    "They took a car ride that started in Maine and headed south along the coast, until they found the town of Essex, (Connecticut)," he continued. "They fell in love with the area and with the Connecticut River. They got a real estate agent, who suggested they consider Old Lyme."

    He said that his parents were immediately captivated by the town. It was "sweet and less touristy" than other locations they considered. Their agent introduced them to 5 Academy Lane.

    His father felt an immediate connection with the house, but his mother required convincing. She'd wanted a home that was more modern, a house more like what they were accustomed to in Belgium.

    "But Dad was shrewd," he affectionately teased his mother.

    His father convinced her that it was a remarkable town, and that the house was smack-dab in the middle of it. He also assured her that the house could be modified to make it somewhat more modern, without undermining the historic quality and character.

    For example, the wide-plank hardwood floors and the fireplace in the living room are believed to be original. There are several fireplaces in the house that have been cleverly closed off. The Levins weren't able to say whether they're in working order, but an inspector can certainly take a closer look at them to determine their condition.

    The house is designated with a historic placard that reads: Oliver C. Wait, 1859. Though the last name "Waite" — with an "e" — is still seen around town today, Mr. Oliver Wait appears not as well known. The Levins weren't able to glean much about his relationship to the house nor the town. Welcome Home has an inquiry into the Old Lyme Historical Society about the home's history.

    There are portions of the house that date back to when it was "new construction." Over time, the house was updated and modernized. The Levins not only renovated the house, they also expanded it.

    "When they bought it, they immediately went ahead with a renovation," Doug Levin explained. "They loved the house. It was picturesque, with such charm, but they needed more space. It was pretty small, and they needed more casual space."

    They seized the opportunity to reinvent the kitchen, to be more sleek, more modern, like Mrs. Levin had hoped.

    The Levins benefitted from the fruits of previous residents' labors in the yard. Avid gardeners themselves, they've planted numerous specimens over the years, as well, for color and texture. They also added two pretty patios off the house — a primary patio off the kitchen and then a private patio off a first-floor bedroom suite.

    There's a shed in the yard, too. It doesn't currently have electric nor heat, but that could be added to reinvent the space, too — from storage space to a working writer's cottage or some other creative studio, they suggested.

    Asked about the quality of life in Old Lyme, Doug Levin likened the town to a Norman Rockwell scene, with a "real town center."

    "It's far enough away from the big cities, so that it doesn't feel suburban. It's old-fashioned, with an ice cream shop and little library. My parents loved living here. My Dad loved knowing everybody on the street."

    The Levin family have enlisted the help of Susan Malan, a Realtor with William Pitt Sotheby's Essex brokerage, to find a new owner for the property.

    "5 Academy Lane is such a precious home and property," Malan said. "From the moment you see it, as you arrive, you feel the warmth, comfort and specialness of it. And all of that is more than confirmed when you walk in the door. (It has) fantastic great spaces, loads of beautiful natural light, character throughout — and all in such an amazing Old Lyme village location. To the unknown new owners: You are quite fortunate, indeed, to be the new stewards of this perfect home."

    The asking price for 5 Academy Lane, Old Lyme, is $639,900.

    Property: 5 Academy Lane, Old Lyme

    Bedrooms: 3

    Baths: 3

    Square Footage: 2,076

    Acreage: 0.67 acre

    Asking Price: $639,900

    Seller's Agent: Susan A. Malan, William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty, Essex brokerage; Office: (860) 767-7488; Mobile: (617) 645-4392; smalan@williampitt.com

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