Heiress Puts Two Thimble Islands Up For Sale

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A wealthy heiress who has spent $35 million since the late 1990s amassing a collection of nine of the Thimble Islands off Branford is now putting two of them up for sale.

Christine Svenningsen late Monday listed Jepson Island and the larger Belden Island for sale — the first time an entire island in the Thimbles has been for sale in at least the past five years, agents at William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Madison, which has the listing, told me.

Island ownership isn’t for everyone, and these will certainly cost you.

Jepson Island — about a third of an acre with a 1,000-square-foot, contemporary-style house — carries an asking price of just under $2 million. The house has extensive decking wrapped around the house and clamming beds that go with the property. Svenningsen paid $1.4 million for the island in 2003, property records show.

Belden Island in the Thimbles off Branford is for sale with an asking price of $3.9 million. Photo Courtesy of Shoreline aerial photography.

Slightly to the west, Belden Island, at just over an acre, features a 4-bedroom, 2-bath colonial built in 1912 that includes original board and batten wainscotted walls and ceilings and gas lights. The house also has wraparound porches; the grounds have a new dock.

The asking price for Belden is $3.9 million, up from $2.8 million paid by Svenningsen in 2006.

See more photos of Jepson and Belden islands, plus other islands for sale in Connecticut here.

Co-listing agents Margaret Muir and Tony Nuzzo said both houses and landscaping have undergone extensive renovations, but they declined to estimate the value of the improvements other than to say it was “substantial.”

Clint Rodenberg, an agent at William Pitt Sotheby’s, told me Svenningsen isn’t looking to sell off her entire island holdings and plans to remain a major owner.

“She fell in love with the islands and got passionate for them,” Rodenberg said. “She wanted to preserve them, renovate them and use them for a place for her children to come. Now, she wants to simplify.”

Svenningsen couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

In addition to Jepson and Belden, half of Bear Island is also for sale, according to Nuzzo, the listing agent. One lot on Bear, 1.7 acres with a 720-square-foot bungalow, is priced at $999,000. A second, 1.7-acre lot is approved for a 4-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home and has an asking price of $1.75 million.

Together, the lots can be purchased for $2.75 million.

Svenningsen, a mother of six, is the widow of John Svenningsen, the founder of party-supply business Amscan. Before her husband died from cancer in 1997, it is said John Svenningsen counseled his wife to invest in real estate. He had purchased West Crib Island in the Thimbles in 1976.

A year after her husband’s death, Christine Svenningsen bought Wheeler Island, home to Ghost House, a crumbling Victorian hotel. She tore it down and rebuilt it, gaining praise from locals who were wary of her shopping spree in the Thimbles.




Read more here about islands for sale around the world in a story from the Los Angeles Times.

Check out photos here of more islands for sale around the globe.





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9 thoughts on “Heiress Puts Two Thimble Islands Up For Sale

  1. Jake

    Just think of all the things you could do while out on one of those islands ….
    um …. well ….
    Give me a couple of days and I’ll think of something.

  2. Senior Daddy

    Yeah Bob W. cause the rich democrats earned it, unlike the rest of us…we stole it from the poor (if that’s possible) lol

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