Blog :: 10-2014

In Our Neighborhood: Highlighting People and Places in the County


Matt Wood, photo courtesy of Happening in the Hills

We are amazed at the breadth of talent and the robust Art community in our region. The walls of our offices are always showcasing individuals painters, sculpters and multi-media artists. We seek out for our own home works of art created by local artists who, though nationally known, are rooted in our towns.

We have a dramatic gold painting by Woodbury based artist Matt Wood in our dining area which is hung above a fireplace. It is one of our very favorite paintings. You can see in another work featured below how Matt does not shy away from a richly saturated the color palette. Here is a link to an article featuring the artist that appeared on the popular Happening in the Hills web site.


An excerpt from the article, "Albert Einstein once wrote that "true art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist." On a recent summer afternoon, Matt Wood strode out of his studio in a paint-specked shirt, arms outstretched, with a welcoming, "Let me show you everything." That 'everything' is apparent on all the walls and in every corner of the artist's home. There is a mural on the bedroom wall depicting the time he spent in the 1980s living in his bronze 1979 Chevrolet Caprice and burying his art in New Mexico and Texas (more on that later). In the living room, a painting with a face sporting a Day-Glo afro created with his daughter's melted crayons lives alongside a dramatic drawing of a women covered by glass and black paint to reassemble a burka. As we ramble down to the downstairs studio, photographs spill over a large table and there is a rendering of Copernicus that encompasses the entire ceiling."


Photograph by Matt Wood

Matt is also know for his original art murals and painted an exquisite pastoral scene that graces the wall of the pool area of the Mayflower Spa in Washington, CT. Below is a foyer on a local estate where he created a magical interior vista by replicating photos of trees on the property and using a technique with silver aluminum sheets and reverse imaging.


Click here for more information about Matt Wood and his art.


Country Life: Bunnies in the Garden

Baby Bunny

This baby was in our garden one recent morning. My son held the bunny who was only four inches long! We thought we would look up some details about bunnies in the area:

Where can you find them?

The cottontail rabbit can be found in meadows and shrubby areas in the eastern and south-central United States.

What is their habitat?

Cottontails love open grassy areas, cleared land and fields with a mixture of lush grasses and herbs. They also look for dense shriubs that provide cover and protect them from predators. An interesting note, they are rarely found in deep woods.

Rabbits and bunnies charm us from childhood and throughtout our life. Here is a quote from the 'Tale of Peter Rabbit', a favorite story for young people.

"I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.

His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!

'One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.'

But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper."

Beatrix Potter


A Mansion where Liberace Played and Stayed

Birdsey Hall

Birdsey Hall was built in 1810 by Birdsey Norton who, in his travels to the south as a cheese merchant, was impressed by the mansions he saw and resolved to build one in Goshen. The main house is built of red brick made from Goshen clay and is decorated with marble from nearby Norfolk.

Later in its life, it was owned by Liberace's long term friend, Fred Favorite. Many in town think this ownership was a beard and the house is referred to by locals as "Liberace's House". We were told that Liberace visited the home frequently and kept a piano there.


Much to our surprise, Thomas Catlin Easton, read our recent Facebook post and added to the history of the house. "The Steinway was in the Northeast corner of the first level of the original building. If this was it, then it was there right where the round table is. I got to meet, have breakfast with, and hear Lee play that piano back in 1979. Fred Favorite and Bob DeVoye were friends of mine and I got to live at the house while they were away producing a musical in NY state. Oh the stories to be told... "

Liberace Post The photo at right shows where Liberace's Steinway was at that time.

He added, "Another note: Lee had a pristine Dusenberg (or some such) in the garage under the breakfast room (checkered marble floor off the kitchen). Bats used to fly down the flu in the master bedroom and we had to use a tennis racket to corral them! Singer Sergio Franchi stayed there when he would play at the dinner theater (I forgot the name). Thanks for the memories! Lastly, the house was on the Underground Railroad, is just down the road from Abolitionist John Brown's birthplace, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was born further down the road in Litchfield"

To add some more color to the story, Thomas shared, " Finally, Lee, Fred and Bob had closets and the attic full of rather outlandish (but real) costumes from various shows. Lee's bedroom was painted powder blue (his favorite color) and, just between us, he wandered the house in white fur muck lucks and a red, white fur-lined bathrobe. He also had an absolutely beautiful, functioning, extremely old harpsichord in the room opposite the music room. OK, that's it!"

For details on the property:

Call or Email: Stacey Matthews: 860-868-0511 to request more information.



  1. Jonathan Warren on

    The upright harpsichord given to Liberace by Sergio Franchi is on exhibit with the Liberace Museum Collection in Las Vegas, at Thriller Villa, the former home of Michael Jackson.

    Country Life: Baby Duckling

    At my friend's farm, I had a chance to hold this baby duckling that fit in my cupped hand. His fur was bright yellow and he was alert to all around him. I have included below some tips on caring for ducklings: Duck 1

    Feeding Baby Ducks

    • Never feed ducks without water. Water helps get food down and clean beak vents. Always give baby ducks access to water for at least an hour before feeding.
    • Ducklings have no teeth but appreciate finely chopped fruits, vegetables or greens. Small insects and worms make good treats, as well.


    • Not just an escape from predators and the elements, ducks need shelter to provide quiet and seclusion.
    • The shelter should be well ventilated and large enough that your ducks can fully expand their wings and groom.


    • Ducklings need a ready source of clean water. Chick fountains are recommended.
    • Ducklings will play in water, making a mess. Be sure to clean it often.
    • Water should be no more than ¼" deep. Make sure ducks can easily escape the water. Baby ducks love to play in water but can easily drown if they tire.
    • Ducklings don't produce waterproofing oil until 4 weeks of age. In the wild, mothers apply it. Swimming your ducks too early can result in death from chill or even drowning from fatigue.

    Duck 2


    Rossiter Revisited: Vaillant House, an Architectural Gem made Perfect with Elegant Renovation


    Vaillant House was originally conceived by Washington's most famous architect Ehrick Rossiter as an artist's summer escape. Recently, the house was rebuilt and renovated by the area's top designer and reimagined by a preeminent NYC decorator. The interior rooms were 'taken down to the studs' and enriched with luxury finishes and textures. The original basic moldings were not representative of Rossiter's work at that time so they were redesigned in keeping with the colonial revival and Mediterranean direction.

    Family room

    Ehrick Rossiter had a fascinating history; born in Paris, France to American Parents, he returned to the United States to attend Frederick Gunn's school 'The Gunnery' in Washington, CT. He designed many important town buildings such as the Memorial Gunn Library, St. John's Episcopal Church and the clubhouse of the Washington Club. He is best known for his architectural designs of 25 estate homes, often called "summer cottages," in the Queen Anne shingle and colonial revival styles.

    Vaillant House was also originally a 'summer cottage', in the Italianate style, but is now completely refurbished and renovated to make it a four season estate. Some of the interior design details include a gourmet kitchen with 2 inch concrete countertops with custom cerused white oak cabinetry. An uber chic living room features a massive fireplace with original mantle and reconditioned moldings. This area opens to a stunning expansive sunroom which incorporates the original floor to ceiling French doors.

    Sun room

    An exceptional example of the renovation is the basement which was dug out to create a remarkable wine cellar. This space is a wine connoisseur's dream, featuring rough-grouted brick walls, a unique waxed oak raised panel ceiling treatment, and full temperature and humidity control for 1500+ bottles. Wide board chestnut planks found in the attic were repurposed to create the shelving. Along with a bar, 1/2 bath and media center, it is the quintessential "man cave".

    Wine cellar

    Private vistas from the house are wide-reaching and very unique for a property so close to town. The original Rossiter Carriage and Groomsman's quarters complete a backdrop that is like a rich Litchfield County version of 'Brideshead Revisited' and is its own, 'Rossiter Revisited'.





    1. Justo Vaillant on

      You guys have Beautiful houses great living and successful and I Justo Vaillant the left behind ones to all the Vaillant around the world and going to keep my comment.