Katharine Hepburn’s Former Estate For Sale in Connecticut

by hookedonhouses on June 28, 2011

At the beginning of the drive to Katharine Hepburn’s estate in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, a hand-painted sign politely requested potential lookiloos to “Please Go Away.” If that wasn’t enough to convince them, a “Keep Out” sign was tacked below it. Gotta love it–especially when she posed next to them with flowers and a big grin on her face.

The film legend died at the age of 96 in 2003; her home sold a year later to Barbara and Frank Sciame for $6 million. They renovated it and just put it back on the market for $28m. Here’s how the house looked then:

And here’s how the house looks today, after the extensive renovations:

The waterfront estate had been in the Hepburn family since 1913. The house was built in the late ’30s and Katharine did little to update it over the years. Well, everything has been now. It has been so updated, in fact, that it looks like it could be a brand new house.

The Sciames bought the property as an investment but they say they fell in love with the house and spent summers here. I can see why! I wouldn’t mind having this as a summer home…

Here’s a photo of Hepburn in the kitchen. This little glimpse inside the house gives you an idea of how much work the new owners did to it.

Here’s that same kitchen today, and it’s pretty unrecognizable as the same one:

The renovated pantry:

In this bedroom, it’s all about the view:

The house has 6 bedrooms in all…

…and 7.5 baths.

So much of the house is so white that I wish there were more signs of warmth like there is with the wood around this fireplace. I imagine things were a lot warmer and darker before. (Note the books they have on the coffee table about her.)

The house has over 8,000 square feet. One of my favorite spots has to be this screened porch overlooking the water:

Those of you who remember the houses and sets from movies better than the plots in them probably thought of the Hepburn Estate as it was portrayed in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Aviator, right? I remembered loving it when I saw the film back in ’04. I watched it again today to snaps some photos and compare the two.

Here’s how the Hepburn house looked in the movie when Howard Hughes (played by DiCaprio) and Kate Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) pulled up the long drive:

Sadly, a hurricane destroyed the original house shortly after Hepburn and Hughes broke up in 1938. It floated away in the water while the Hepburn family watched it from higher ground. Foundation bricks and a claw-footed bathtub were all that was left of it. They rebuilt this house in the same spot, but higher off the ground. (Source.)

This is the only room of the house that we really get to see in the movie. Boo. Hiss. I wanted to see more.

I kept trying to get a better look at the kitchen over Cate Blanchett’s shoulder. When she ducked under the table at one point, I snapped this photo:

According to the listing, the property has its own private dock and beach, with “a pond opposite side securing privacy.”

You can read more about it and see more photos at The Daily Mail and the listing. Thanks to all of the readers (and fellow Hepburn fans) who emailed, FB’d, and Tweeted me about this listing. You guys rock. :)

P.S. I loved both Katharine Hepburn and her country house in the classic comedy Bringing Up Baby. You can see my post about those sets here.

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Wendy June 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

I guess the new owners did all the things that you are supposed to do. But it seems completely soulless to me. In particular the kitchen, which features all the latest retro gizmos that I usually love–beadboard, farm sink, et al–but just looks like it was picked out of a catalogue rather than loved into being by a cook. I’d be very curious to see what the next people do with that blank canvas.

Beverly from Montreal June 29, 2011 at 5:50 am

Yes, it would be interesting to see if the new owners can bring back some of the charm, warmth, and original character of the house that, sadly, has been erased by the heavy handed use of white paint.

A.Men June 29, 2011 at 7:55 am

Yes, VERY souless! Cold. White. Sterile. Yuk!

Bridget June 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

I agree with Wendy. I’m not too sure of the kitchen. But I’d be happy to wake up every morning in the bedroom with the view and the fireplace.

Nita June 29, 2011 at 12:12 am

I would have liked the original more. Look how close the house is to the ocean. I don’t believe in global warming (that people cause it), but if the ocean rises even a little bit, that $28 million will have been a waste of money. This house looks like it will one day float out to sea again.

Magda June 29, 2011 at 8:10 am

So how is life back in the dark ages? Still worried about falling off the edge of Earth, too?

WileyInCA July 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Ow … gosh Magda, do you always just automatically go into snark mode?

Magda's Daddy August 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I think Magda, according to her own weak logic, is the one living in the “dark ages. Back then, people believed what the authorities told them to believe even if there was no evidence just like the “falling of the edge of the Earth” fallacy. Magda, like the uneducated masses of the Dark Ages, insists on believing what the authorities tell her to, even in the overwhelming absence of scientific proof. Way to go liberalism!

Beach Vintage June 29, 2011 at 12:28 am

I adore the old house, especially the old kitchen. Its too modern for me now. But I do love the position.

Maaike Quinn June 29, 2011 at 2:39 am

I agree! I can’t say that I don’t like the new kitchen, but the old one was so full of life and character! I wouldn’t have changed it all that much.

Victor Castleton July 1, 2011 at 12:29 am

I agree, it is probably worth $28 mill, but it is real RE value. They bought a Stradivarius and they re-shellacked it

Nita{ModVintageLife} June 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

I love white but this house is too white. I wish they’d tried to keep more of the original character. The new kitchen looks like it could be in any new house. Look at Katherine…she had open shelving in her kitchen way before it was popular. How amazing is it that this house stayed in her family so long! Yes, if I bought it…I’d try to bring some of the flavor of the old house back. In these photos…the pantry was my favorite. great post

Megan June 30, 2011 at 4:29 am

It’s possible the rooms were painted other colors, but were painted white before the house was put on the market.

Ann June 29, 2011 at 1:39 am

Whew! How real estate prices go up so fast…

Love the structure of the house itself and its location.
ALthough I think there will have to be quite a renovation to be done in the interiors
and the interior design itself. This is quite a piece of property considering the historical value.

Kim June 29, 2011 at 1:47 am

What a gorgeous house! I love how it is updated, but I hate how all of the bedboard and woodwork is painted over. I’ve never understood why people do that. It takes away from the natural beauty of the wood. One thing’s for sure, if I ever build a home that has woodwork, I will never paint them.

nanne June 29, 2011 at 6:05 am

it’s beautiful, but the new/previous owners renovated most of the charm out of it :(….

nanne in columbus, indiana

E. George June 29, 2011 at 6:22 am

Hi Julia it is 9.11pm here and it’s cold the heaters are on but looking at this house is not making me feel warmer. I like the look of the bedrooms and bathroom the kitchen needs a few warm touches but it’s not that bad I wouldn’t say no to it. I’m not good with colour but I think you can’t have a room painted in a stark white colour and have the timber au-natural it’s too harsh. This was a great blog thanks Julia I love Katharine Hepburn. Regards Esther from Sydney.

kelly in georgia June 29, 2011 at 6:23 am

It is beautiful…beautiful as if a brand new home (which is kinda what it is?). As a Hepburn fan, I would have wanted to keep as much of it like it was when she lived there – just for historical significance – or maybe sentimental reasons. I’d even want the funny signs!
Julia, one day you need to do a movie post on the house from On Golden Pond. It would be a wonderful one for all of us to “study”. I’ve loved it ever since I saw the movie in college.
Thanks for the fun post today!
kelly

donna @ casa de crain June 29, 2011 at 9:43 am

Exactly the same thing I was thinking. It is lovely but feels stripped of its character and Ms. Hepburn’s spirit. I actually prefer the original kitchen.

Lynn@thevintagenest June 29, 2011 at 6:28 am

I adore the blue and white but like others, think a mix of woods would have been warmer. Maybe the new owners will do that. :)

Dianne June 29, 2011 at 7:09 am

I love what they did with the house…and I imagine that Ms. Hepburn would have loved it too…to me it looks just like what I would have expected .

Bianca June 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Then you don’t know Katherine Hepburn.

She was never a conformist and this renovation just ticks off all the boxes of gotta haves, paint the “$&!+” out of everything white and overcharge for the privilege of it. It might as well have we a new build; stripped, souless and “on trend”.

Katherine Hepburn doesn’t live here any more. I think she would have cried.

B

Penelope Bianchi August 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Now I have read the other comments…….

I have to agree with some…….not all….! HA!!!

I didn’t know her; but I saw Fenwick…this amazing island..everyone and everything….low-key; very lovely and oriented to the beach. Katharine…, I think would have cringed……(major cringed) at the word “estate”! It was her “beach house…or her “country house”! She would not use the word “home” (she would and did in all of her articles….) used the word “house”……she is spinning in her grave hearing it called…..an “estate” People did not used to talk that way…to tell you the real truth. I am old I can tell you honestly. Where you lived, regardless of how many acres or how big your house was……no one I ever heard used the word “estate”!~ ( Except the fabulous trash collectors in Pasadena 1986)!!! ! We bought a house I had wanted since I was 13! And when the smart and wonderful trash people came for the first time……(25 years ago….snore!) they said….”Are you the new owner? You might want a ‘dumpster’ instead of cans! most of the ‘estates’ in this neighborhood do!”
It was a house. A lovely and beautiful thing…..We adored every minute in it…..we never would have nor would now….refer to it as an “estate” nor a “home”

We called it our house…..and we were home when we were in it! Things have changed…..and I understand and accept them!
This new , white, house for that price just made me sad. And I told you why!

Your blog is so interesting to me….because you have such a discerning eye! You are amazing……

I am “hooked on hooked on houses”! Fascinating……

Penny

…”estate” just doesn’t sound right to me…….except when it is one.

In my opinion……”gated estate” is the most overused thing in real estate!

Just my opinion!

Kirsten June 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

I wonder if there would’ve been a way to keep a house with *that* much history looking a little more….storied. With this house now, we can be told it is the Hepburn estate, but there is nothing there that belies this. Just looks like another personality-free, all-white beachfront property.

Give me old & imperfect any day. (but, um, modern plumbing please. thanks.) :)

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Kirsten,

I grew up in Fenwick and spent a lot of time in Kate’s old house (see “Surviving High Society”) and I understand your feelings about keeping renovations lower key and keeping “the spirit” of the place. The problem with that was that Kate never really kept up the house and after she died, the house barely survived being demolished because it was unsafe. In fact, it was sliding off its foundation and the inside was a disaster…every single bit of the plumbing and electrical work had to be replaced and a lot of the walls were coming apart.

You’re right. The Sciame renovation is a new house which happens to be located on land that Kate owned.

Liz

Kathy Strader June 29, 2011 at 7:54 am

Maybe it is just the way the photograph is taken, but the birds flying over the staircase seem very odd to me.

david June 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I bought a goose similar to those at a yard sale -mine are red and white polka dot. They are suspended from fishing line and the slightest breeze makes the wings rise and fall. Air rising up the stair well would set them in motion.

Danielle June 29, 2011 at 8:12 am

Wow, they really gave it a makeover. Either way, this is a beautiful house. I love that view.

Luciane at Homebunch.com June 29, 2011 at 8:17 am

I do love the house now, but I think it’s missing something… more original details. I wish they’ve kept more of the old house. You’re right, it could be a new house and it feels that way. Too bad… I prefer seeing it was from many, many years ago. It would feel more charming, I guess.

Have a great day, Julia!

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Magda June 29, 2011 at 8:24 am

Another site had a real estate listing identical to the one linked here but showed the price at $18 million. That’s quite a difference. I wonder which one is correct.

hookedonhouses June 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

They have divided the property up into 3 lots that you can buy separately or together. The agent says, “This listing offers 680 FT of waterfront with the main house sitting on 1.47 acres, and 2 additional lots, one of 1.32 acres, the other of .66 acre. Each with private beach. The house is also sold separately on 1.47 acres, MLS#9128976.” Maybe the listing you saw was for one of the others.

Bianca June 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Imagine spending $18,000,000 for a gettaway retreat and having someone else build their dream monster home less than 200 feet away from you.

Hi neighbour!

B

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Bianca,

I grew up in Fenwick and I can tell you that I am pretty sure that a lot of “Fenwickites” as Kate’s sister, Marion Grant dubbed us, do not like what has been done to Kate’s house. She never took care of it and after she died, it was almost demolished as it was slipping off its foundation and was a complete disaster inside. The Sciame family bought and decided to do “renovations”. Despite the fact that Kate and “Fenwickites” were not the best of friends, I believe that Kate and Fenwick would be inagreement that the “renovations” are not “in the style of Fenwick in general” and perhaps might be described as “horrid”.

More stories about Kate in my book, “Surviving High Society”…Amazon, Kindle.

Liz (flyank@cox.net)

Dixie June 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

Today is the anniversary of her death – June 29, 2003. I thought the renovated house beautiful, but I doubt that Ms. Hepburn would approve.

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Dixie,
I grew up in Fenwick and knew several members of Kate’s family and was in Kate’s house many times. I agree with you that Kate would NOT have approved of the new house. And I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who are living in Fenwick now don’t like what is now called the “Sciame house” (present owners).

You might enjoy my book “Surviving HIgh Society” (Amazon, Kindle) which has some more stories about Kate in it.

Liz (flyank@cox.net)

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints June 29, 2011 at 8:43 am

wow it’s beautiful. can you imagine waking up to that view every day??

Brandon @ Southgate June 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

Wow! I absolutely love that foyer, and the “crows nest” in the attic is perfection. I read somewhere that the current owners also had the house raised a few more feet to further protect it from the sea. They had to have spent millions doing this renovation.

etta June 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

I LOVE the renovated interior and exterior… what a beautiful view from the bedroom.. it’s a dream!!!
kisses
Etta

Alycia June 29, 2011 at 9:20 am

I would love to have that house! But really. What is up with the blue rugs around the stairs? No bueno.

Brenda June 29, 2011 at 9:30 am

Thanks, Julia, for looking into this listing. The house site is in a fabulous location. I agree that the inside of the house is too white. Perhaps the new owner could negotiate a new paint job for some of the rooms! Such an awesome site, maybe your book will be written someday…never say never.

Kathy :) June 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

LOVED her…..what a Dame !!!! I wish they had left some of her in the home…too bad, I love the new kitchen, would not have gutted it though, the old one had a lot of charm…. and the view from that bedroom WOW…

Great post Julia, I really like seeing the homes of the old stars….now and back then !! I was always curious about Cary Grant, I heard the knock on him was being very tight with his $$$ ???

Have a wonderful week….

Kathy :)

Spring June 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

Oooo I loved the old kitchen. Her oven was gorgeous.

The only thing they left of her are the books on the coffee table.

polly dove June 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

It is certainly a job done well, sterile or not. It is a stunning house, as are the grounds. I agree though … I doubt Miss Hepburn would approve. She looks just gorgeous in that picture in her old kitchen which is perfectly appropriate for her at that time! Updating isn’t a bad thing (for any new owners). ;)

Jessica June 29, 2011 at 11:23 am

I immediately thought of the Aviator too! I loved that the Hepburn’s had an old estate that had been in the family for ever, but I think it’s sad, along with most everyone else, that the Hepburn charm wasn’t retained at all in the renovation. Even a little nod to the historical significance of the home and it’s former occupant would have sufficed. I know it was a summer home and not used much and for the listing all the life has been removed, but it still leaves me feeling cold…all the white is so sterile and contrived…and I love white, just not this white! The pantry sink is pretty cool though, and over all it’s a beautiful spot and a great ‘blank canvas’. Wouldn’t it be lovely if some hollywood type bought and somewhat restored it for Katherine’s sake…that would most likely happen, only in the movies though! ;)
xo J~

Bre June 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Great post Julia! I adored Katharine Hepburn and all her movies, she truly was an original. I loved Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of her in The Aviator. This house is truly gorgeous. I’m with you though, I love white, but the house could benefit from some color to liven up the space. It needs some warmth, too much white makes it look too sterile for my tastes. That porch is incredible, I’m sure you did fall in love with it! Hope you’re enjoying your porch this summer Julia!

Amelie June 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I live two towns away from Old Saybrook and it seems the price is pretty ridiculous. I don’t care who owned it or how big it is, that house is majorly overpriced. I love Katharine Hepburn and Old Saybrook but that is just crazy.

Jano June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I am glad that the partially exposed brink-n-paint was retained on the exterior because it gives the house a weather-worn look. However, I far prefer the original dark trim on the exterior. The medium gray trim makes the exterior details recede. If they’d used a blue/slate or a blue/black color for trim it would have been more striking. As for the inside, I know the house is staged but some plants would warm it up, as would even a hint of pastels in the furnishings.

CT Tattoo Shop June 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

What a nice home, though the interior is just a bit too white for my tastes. I do love how it’s completely surrounded by water.

laney June 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

…i think the owners painted and renovated away most of the charm and soul of the original house.. .while yes it really is a beautiful house…it is certainly not a warm home…not much of kate hepburn left…

Bee D. June 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I think you must be in the home to realize that all the white lets you focus on the beauty of the outdoor setting. Unclutters the view from in looking out. I agree it would be nice with more natural wood, but I really think it is the view that they want guests to be impressed with. And boy am I!

Kathryn Griffin June 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

That place is gorgeous! Love the white, however, I would want a little more warmth! But, it is beautiful!!

Pat June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Why is it when I sell a house, it appraises for less then my listing price? LOL!
I love this house. You can paint it any color you like, but the house itself is fantastic. I doubt I’d ever get out of bed if I saw that view when I woke up. Call me picky, but that pictures of the old kitchen….it looked like it could use a little cleaning. Oh well we can’t all be famous, rich and live in such a great place. But we can enjoy them on your blog!

Sheila Krehbiel June 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I was a little surprised to see some of the comments saying how horrible this house is. Really? I’d bet just about everyone on this list would take that house in a heartbeat. I know I would. The allure of owning — or just visiting — a house that the great Hepburn once owned would be monumental, for sure. And changing anything at all would be frowned upon by a lot of people. But I think these owners did a good job keeping with the upscale beach theme. If I had $28 million, I’d make one change that would, I think, warm it up sufficiently: redo the wood floors with a rich brown stain. That would showcase the white walls and ceilings a bit better and make the place seem like some of her soul was still there. Maybe. Anyway, I loved the peek inside. Thanks again!

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Sheila,
I grew up in Fenwick and I can assure you that this not “the house that Hepburn owned”. It is a renovation of what was left of Kate’s house after she died. Kate never took care of her house and not long after she died it was discovered that the house was sliding off it’s foundation. It came within inches of being destroyed because it was unsafe. The Sciames basically gutted the original and have come up with what is there now.
Liz Mulholland, author of “Surviving High Society”

Another Fenwick one June 26, 2012 at 4:39 am

I liked the old house and playing monopoly there with my mother, sister and Dick. Kath would sometimes appear. “Script”, she muttered to make us go away. With 28 million you can buy a silly house. With 3 million and a little personality you can live your own life.

Arie June 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I think I only truly liked the one fireplace with the old stone and wood surround. Seemed to be the only piece in the new house that had some warmth and character. Maybe the brick wall in the bedroom too.

karen ho fatt June 29, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Amazing Amazing home. Has stood the test of time. Beautiful renos indeed. Katherine would have been elated, putting that mildly.

rachel June 30, 2011 at 5:58 am

I love it. Before and after renovations. I think it is amazing. LOVE the view, especially from that one bedroom! I would never leave!

Patience June 30, 2011 at 6:19 am

I love the original kitchen, even if it was cluttered and the floor was awful. I would kill to have that old stove in my own kitchen. Love the quaint double window over the sink too, and Katharine Hepburn working in her own kitchen!

Jenny Allworthy June 30, 2011 at 7:58 am

Is it just me or do that fireplace and oak coffee table look out of place? It ‘s like they randomly decided to leave one little bit unrenovated! At that point you might as well paint the whole bloody thing!

Ah well, to each his own. Obviously any of us would love to stay there for just one night, never mind own it. But it is amazing how many of us feel like the place has lost it’s soul. The white everywhere seems to lack imagination. Perhaps the owners were afraid of making a mistake so they just kept going with white.

Mary June 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

What a beautiful house – although I think I liked the before glimpses better – it had more character when it was Katherine’s – no surprise!
Mary

Grace June 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Stunning setting, beautiful views, but utterly soulless house. It’s possible to renovate without making a house look exactly like every other house in those home reno magazines..

Candide August 22, 2011 at 12:30 am

Exactly. I don’t understand the point of “renovating” historic homes to make them look as if they were built yesterday. Why not just buy a house that was, actually, built yesterday? It’s so jarring when the exterior has so much character and millions have been spent to ensure the interior has none.

Gail McCann June 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I’m confused. It says that the house has been in the Hepburn family since 1913 and they did little to it. Then later it says that a hurrican destroyed it in 1938 and they rebuilt it on higher ground. Am I reading this wrong?

hookedonhouses June 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm

This is the second house on the property. The first was built in 1913.

After the hurricane in the ’30s they built this one and raised it higher off the ground. Based on the photo of the kitchen, it doesn’t look like a lot was updated over the years, and the new owners renovated the whole thing from top to bottom.

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm

to hookedonhouses,

You’re right. Basically, the Sciames gutted the old Hepburn house (what was left of it) and built a new house.

When the Sciames bought the house, it was sliding off its foundation and had came close to being demolished as it was unsafe. Kate had never taken care of it and water sloshed in for years and the roof, the plumbing and electrical had not been updated for decades. Many walls were unstable.

I grew up in Fenwick and spent a lot of time in Kate’s house. I remember hearing often a story about the ’38 hurricane and the Hepburn house. The house sailed out to sea except for the roof which landed in the yard of neighbors across the street from the house my family had built in 1928. There were several families, including my parents who used to have a joint steak barbeque on Saturday nights in the yard of the neighbor where the roof landed. The Hepburn roof was chopped up and used for firewood for quite a number of those barbeques. I understand there were quite a few comments that it was “too bad” when that supply of wood was exhausted.
Liz Mulholland, author of “Surviving High Society”

Ian. C. March 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

It actually says that the Hepburns owned the “estate” from 1913 and the original house was built in 1930. Later in that decade a hurricane destroyed it and it was re-built.

Decor Arts Now July 1, 2011 at 9:30 am

Loved this Julia. I would love to own the vintage range in Hepburn’s kitchen!
And I agree the renovated house is a bit too white.
Great post,Lynn

jane July 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Looks like they ripped out any thing Katharine Hepburn would have cherished and gave it the Tori Spelling treatment. Absolutely hate the kitchen.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... July 5, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I adore the wood around the fireplace.

Maria July 6, 2011 at 2:22 am

I think the renovators should’ve paid attention to the sign and kept out. The house is lovely in a brand new house kind of way and I agree the kitchen is overdone, but it is really sad to me what happens in the name of updating sometimes. I think Katherine would be in tears seeing it stripped this way and as a buyer, well you can’t really say this was Hepburn’s former home because nothing of what it was is left of it. I’d much rather see it as it formerly was, a grand dame, my… I bet she was yar.

joni webb July 12, 2011 at 5:43 pm

well, i was just going to write about this, then read this and said, forget it. what you wrote couldn’t be topped! as usual!!! drats! haahah!!!!!

loved the way you weaved the old movie in with the story.
J

CT Girl July 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm

So many of you are so negative on this thread! I bet you would not turn down a chance to own the house if you had that kind of money.

The new owner can add their own color accents and paint! Also, it is very Coastal New England with the white and blue…LOVE IT.

Ellen May 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

You couldn’t pay me enough to live in this house. It’s a clone of so many other soulless former beauties that have been subjected to embarrassing makeovers. These people have atrocious taste.

Another Fenwick one June 26, 2012 at 4:43 am

I’d prefer the cash, thank you. No point in expressing yourself through purchases if you have no taste.

Mike July 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I actually live in the same area as the hepburn house. The Movie the Aviator was not shot on the origional property and the inside scene was shot on a set. The only origional piece in the house today is the dark fireplace mantle. From what I’ve heard very little could be saved inside. You can see lots more of the inside when kate still lived there in some of her books.

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 1, 2011 at 9:14 am

Mike,
You are right about the movie not being shot on the property. My parents built what is now the Peter Bulkeley house and I grew up in Fenwick. After Kate died, it was discovered that the house was sliding off its foundation and it came within an eyelash of being demolished. Inside it was a disaster. When I was visiting Kate once she just said of the porch, “Oh, when it rains through the roof at night we just sweep it out in the morning”. There are some more stories about Kate in my book, “Surviving High Society” (Amazon, Kindle). I found a postcard picture of the original house and donated it to The Old Saybrook Historical Society through Val Bulkeley.

I wonder what happened to the lots that Kate gave to the town of Old Saybrook for public use…..gotta’ run. Would like to keep in touch.

Liz Mulholland

hookedonhouses August 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

Interesting! Thanks, Liz!

Mike July 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Also for all you who hate the white, Kate is quoted as saying in one of her books…. ” The Best Color is White….You let the flowers be the this’s and that’s”

Allison Costello July 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Yes, it IS too white! It looks like that Victorian in “Pacific Heights” (Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine, who seem to have taken a giant spray painter to EVERYTHING in it. I am reminded of two prospective “artsy” tenants, who drawl, “It’s a BIT chalky!”. Yes, indeed!

Penelope Bianchi August 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Oh dear! A McMansion!! How terribly sad it makes me! I didn’t read all the other comments; but I wanted to tell you that this is a very special part of Old Saybrook! When we went to my husband’s 50th reunion at Choate (YIKES!) there was a classmate who had a lobster dinner at his house in “Fenwick”! It is an island! and the houses are all built around the shores of the island; and there is a nine-hole golf course in the middle shared by the association! Such a special place. Everything that was there was so warm and so unpretentious! My husband’s classmate had grown up on a farm up the road; and had wanted to live on that island since he was a boy! They had a lovely simple house ; all about the views and the water.
Sorry to sound cynical. $26 million dollar “McMansion” must not make the “island dwellers” (my term) very happy!
Boo hoo. It even makes me sad all the way out here in California!

ps the 50th reunion was a smash hit! Never have I had a better time! (It was HIS reunion)! He was president of his class all four years! (Have you or any of your readers ever heard of that???) They set a record for attendance for 120 years or something……it was amazing. He, being from California had not seen anyone for 50 years; and they all recognized each other instantly! It was “magic”! Fenwick was a great part of it!

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland August 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

Penny,

I’m glad you had a good time at reunion and at the lobster feast in Fenwick. As I knew Fenwick, it was pretty quiet and lovely, although,it was obvious that there was a lot of money around. By the way, the golf course is public. About 1947, the Town of Old Saybrook realized that multiple descendants of original owners of the land which had been made into the golf course owed a HUGE amount of back taxes on their “lots”. In return for not paying those taxes, the golf course became “public”, owned by the town. But somehow that fact was not advertised and outsiders did not come to play often until the late sixties.
I think you might enjoy my book “Surviving High Society”, Amazon nd Kindle. There are some stories about Kate in it. I spent the first summer of my life there (1941) and was there every summer thereafter until the late sixties. Liz

Beverly September 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm

The house looks like its been embalmed..

Ellen May 23, 2012 at 7:21 am

I hate everything they did to this house! It no longer looks like a place for a human being to live in, and is kind of the antithesis of the look it had when Ms. Hepburn owned it. White white white! Horrible. . .

equinoxranch June 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Place ought to be declared, just like imperious, talentless, beyond ruthless Hepburn a toxic site, nothing more.

EILO LONG July 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

OLD SAYBROOK WAS MY STAMPING GROUNDS IN MY YOUNGER DAYS WE WERE 4 CLOSE FRIENDS–OUR SMALL GETAWAY WAS BEHIND KATHERINES OLD HOUSE–I SAW HER OFTEN IN THE GROCERY STORE OR THE BUTCHER SHOP LITTLE DID I KNOW ONE DAY LATER IN LIFE I WOULD GET TO KNOW HER

Mimi August 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I was truly warmed by your petite vignette of memories past and your connection to Katherine Hepburn. I have always admired her strong character and sense of authenticity. And I continue to be a great admirer of her body of work.

I also have a strong affinity for most things New England, especially the houses and colonial interior design. So getting to view Hepburn’s home in any state is a treat indeed. Thank you for sharing.

Linda September 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Katherine being my all time favorite actress sure chose a beautiful place in which to call home goodness I love everything about it, except the white a little bit to much for me, I love colo,r although it does have color for accents, anywho who wouldn’t love the view that simply does not go away, I could and would live there just knowing Katherine lived there, one thing stopping me is the green stuff dang it, money

Linda September 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I love the picture of Katherine holding the flowers and the signs, what a laughing scream.

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