“Extras” Now Offered In Sale of Hepburn Estate in Fenwick

by Categorized: Katharine Hepburn House Date:


Usually, when a property doesn’t sell after a year, the owner might consider dropping the price.

But the owners of Katharine Hepburn’s seaside estate in Old Saybrook are actually raising it by $2 million to $30 million. But wait until you see the “extras” that they now are throwing in: a 2,750-square-foot guest house with 3 bedrooms that will be built this fall to the east of the main house — the beginnings of a family compound.

There also is the potential for a third house on the property to the west of the main house.

The owners of the Katharine Hepburn estate in the Fenwick borough of Old Saybrook will break ground this fall on a gatehouse on the property. A rendering of how the house will appear is shown above. Source: William Pitt Sotheby's International, Essex.

Frank J. Sciame, a Manhattan-based developer and his wife, Barbara, purchased the Hepburn estate in the exclusive Fenwick enclave after the actress’ death in 2003 and completed a top-to-bottom, multimillion dollar renovation. They also secured approval to subdivide the 3-1/2-acre property into three lots.

The plans were always there to build. The property, however, was first listed as the 8,300-square-foot main house and two undeveloped lots for $28 million. The main house could also be purchased by itself for $18 million.

Although there was interest in the property, no buyers emerged since it was listed in June of last year.

See my story from last year here about the Sciames’ extensive renovations of Hepburn’s English cottage-style home.

John T. Randolph, executive vice president of Sciame Development, told me the construction of the guest house — technically a “gatehouse” because it is the first structure you would see entering the property — would be an absolute plus for marketing the property. Fenwick zoning does not allow guest houses on a single lot property.

“This will differentiate this estate from other properties,” Randolph told me. “A compound estate is something that would be more appealing and have more value.”

A view to the main house from the lot where a guest house is planned. Photo by Richard Messina/The Hartford Courant

Construction can’t begin until the fall because Fenwick zoning does not permit building during the summer months.

Randolph told me Sciame is pursuing approvals to construct a house on the lot to the west of the main house.

But if you want the property for $30 million, you’d better act before there are firm plans for the third lot. The price will go up, but Randolph said he couldn’t yet say by how much.

See a photo gallery of the renovated Hepburn home here photographed by The Courant’s Rich Messina.

Hepburn built the Fenwick summer home in 1939 after a year after a hurricane leveled an earlier summer house on the property. She spent weekends there for decades and finally retired there until her death at age 96.

The Sciames bought the property in 2004 for $6 million, half the original asking price. They had at first planned to renovate and sell the house, but, according to published reports, the Sciames’ children liked to stay there so the Sciames held onto the house for longer than first expected.

Earlier this year, rumors swirled that the First Family might want to buy the estate, but the White House quickly moved to squelch the speculation.

Read more about the Obama rumors here.

Colette Harron, of William Pitt Sotheby’s International in Essex, has the listing.












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