Aimee and Douglas Mueller
122 White Oak Shade
“…Main Street was then on the upper stretch of the ‘Road to the Landing,’ which led from Ponus Ridge down Oenoke Ridge and White Oak Shade Road (which began at God’s Acre) directly to Rowayton Harbor”… and the Five Mile River landing.
On the 1856 Map of New Canaan, and also on the 1867 Map, just north of the at the sharp bend in the road that characterizes this property at number 122, was the property and of Daniel G. Weed and his 1760 house and shoeshop at 86 White Oak Shade Road.
Unfortunately, the Mueller site has not been researched by the Historical Society or previous owners, so the original builder-owner of the house and barn is unknown. The building record cards at the Society’s Library state the construction was around 1890, but the Tax Assessor’s web site indicates it was not until 1910.
The original owner might have been one of the wave of recently arrived newcomers from the city, seeking a summer residence in a rural community. It seems unlikely that it would have been a farmer who really planned to work his fields because the land slopes steeply down to the river. In any case, by the time of the mapping of the 1938 Fairfield County Atlas, the property was owned by a K.M. Schafer, or Katherine Morgan Schafer, the former wife of Charles Edward Schafer, who was born in New York City in 1905 and died in 1986. By 1954 the property consisted of a one-family residence, a two-car garage and barn with a hayloft and a chicken coop, owned by Charles E. Schafer, Jr.
Purchased in 2009 by the Muellers this visual landmark site – of both house and barn – has been cleverly rehabilitated to maintain the exterior appearance of the original house, while adding several set-back wings, a garage in the shape of a barn, and two dormer windows. The original projecting frontispiece – front door below pedimented double windows – has been retained, as have the Italianate rounded arch windows of the third floor in the gable ends; and a windowed room extension on the south side and the colonnaded porch have been recreated. In addition, the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system with some 30 wells in the front lawn makes this house the first of its kind to win an award from NCPA.
Their team consisted of James Schettino Architects, New Canaan, contractor Peter Marschalk and Jim Goeble of Marshalk/Goeble contracting, New Canaan, Christina Parrott of Catherine Grace Interiors, and Brian Cossari with Hoffman Landscapes, Wilton.
The Muelller house represents good preservation practices by
1) preserving the original three bay structure with its central projecting frontispiece and other significant architectural elements that provide clues to its original date, along with several significant old trees, and
1) rehabilitating this historic structure with compatible and sympathetic additions while emphasizing the original structure, and
2) reconstructing details such as the colonnaded porch and south window bay.