Portland, CT

Added to OHD on 11/23/15   -   Last OHD Update: 4/12/20   -   27 Comments
SOLD / Archived Post
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76 Penfield Hill Rd, Portland, CT 06480

  • $115,900
  • 4 Bed
  • 2 Bath
  • 2601 Sq Ft
  • 2.32 Ac.
House being sold as-is. While this house is in need of TLC, this is your opportunity to restore this unique home to it's original charm or create a new home on a great piece of property! Not only is it located in a beautiful area, but it will be further surrounded with 3 newer homes to be constructed at a later time. Truly a great location!
Contact Information
Jennifer Hussey, Century 21 Clemens & Sons,
(860) 563-0021

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27 Comments on Portland, CT

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  1. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 12133 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Build date on record is 1800, I assume this is a bit older than that but my knowledge on this era homes is rather poor. I hope someone can give a better estimate on build date.

  2. Melissa says: 231 comments

    Sweet Flaming Cheeseballs! Look at those wide board floors!!!

    Oh, I am IN LOVE with this! Portland, CT is beautiful. You could probably share a rolodex with the guys who bought the Bushnell house in Manchester!

    Kelly, the chimney looks fairly new, but it could just replace an old one – if it serves an old cooking fireplace in the basement, the earliest parts of the house could be from the 1600’s.

    I think this is late 1700s but since we can’t see where the beehive was in the main cooking fireplace, we don’t really know. If it was in the back of the fireplace, then pre 1740’s but out and to the side of the fireplace, post 1740 (which is when the family engineers figured out that fewer wives would die if they weren’t catching fire to their skirts in the cook fire).

    I would certainly bow to other experts if there are other better informed opinions on this one!

  3. Caroline says: 18 comments

    The location’s good, south of Hartford and a quick drive to the shore. It needs more work than I could afford, and the threat of new development nearby scares me, but those original details are lovely. I love that transom over the front door.

    • Sarah M says: 45 comments

      I thought it was odd that they mentioned the impending new development as a selling point. That doesn’t exactly have me reaching for my checkbook.

      • Don Carleton says: 300 comments

        Yeah, I thought that part of the realtor’s blurb was pretty hilarious actually!

      • Tiffaney says: 79 comments

        I thought that too. I’ve walked away from houses because of that very thing. More neighbors (and construction noise) is the opposite of what I want.

        But for that price, maybe I can buy the other pieces of land and never see another human again. 🙂

      • MW says: 919 comments

        Ha, ha, I thought so too. But keep in mind, real estate agents selling a property are sales people. They almost always only ever mention positives. But when they do mention negatives, they only express it in a positive way as if it is a feature, not a problem.

        I for one would be happy to have a few neighbors, doesn’t bother me. But I also know the likelihood of 3 nice architectural accomplishments ending up next door is slim, so I’d really want to check out the situation a lot more closely before making a judgement on it. If the development would be built by someone I could trust to build some very nice houses, I’d be all for it.

        • Caroline says: 18 comments

          Neighbors wouldn’t bother me either, but they’re building new houses right behind my neighborhood at the moment, so I have a daily reminder of how inconvenient new building can be. Sure, build nice new houses to help with resale value! Just do it before I move in so I don’t have to listen to it.

          • MW says: 919 comments

            I can see that for sure. Construction noise and mess isn’t usually that enjoyable for those around it. But since I’m an architect, I am use to it and have to admit my fair share of responsibility for it as well. As such, I’m usually willing to put up with it even if around me as long as the contractors are reasonably respectful about it. Which I myself find most of them to be, at least as much as would seem reasonable so they can just get their jobs done. Leaving a bunch of trash around and not having a clean and organized jobsite is my biggest pet peeve.

  4. LadyBelle says: 61 comments

    So much potential. If the foundation and roof are good, this might not even be the worst fixer upper.

  5. Laurie W. says: 1701 comments

    Beauty. I hope one of our resident experts chimes in on its build date — it looks earlier than 1800 to me, too, Kelly, but I don’t know enough to sound off. Interesting info about the ovens, Melissa! There’s much to love here, and much to fix up. Whoever cut a stovepipe hole in the paneling ought to be skinned. I agree, the prospect of development is far from attractive, but at least it’s being sold with 2 1/3 acres which provide some insulation. It could greatly reward the equity — sweat as well as financial — I hope someone puts into it.

  6. John Shiflet says: 5428 comments

    I’d only share that to me as well this looks like an 18th century house but that’s as far out on a limb as I’m willing to go. As noted, wide floorboards are common for early homes; the fireplace with paneled surrounds also is common for pre-19th century homes. Connecticut was along with Massachusetts one of the early English colonies on the Eastern Seaboard so it does have a few houses remaining from the 1600’s. It would seem likely an early home like this might have been included in the HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) project and if so, the generally reliable historical narrative from HABS could provide useful information. Jim H. is excellent in his abilities to find historical data about properties and the people who lived in them but I’m aware he does not have unlimited free time. In conclusion, this is an early Colonial era house with expected details from that period but more information is needed to pinpoint its origins.

    • JimHJimH says: 5269 comments
      OHD Supporter

      John, I can’t help much on this one since it was built long before insurance maps and city directories. The owner in the 1870’s was Oliver M. Hall, who lived there with his mother and grew potatoes mostly on a 47 acre farm. Oliver’s forebears were in town and if the house came through the family the likely builder after the Revolution was his grandfather Abner Hall (1764-1844). A deed search is needed to go any further with it.
      The Hall family was in the area by 1650. A relative Deacon Samuel Hall built a NRHP listed house on Main Street in 1732. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/item/ct0153/
      I have nothing to add on the dating except it’s interesting that a WPA survey of the old houses in town went right past this one and photographed two immediate neighbors.

      The house with over 7 acres sold last year for $250k, so there’s been a subdivision into four lots. Eventually there will be 2 new homes behind this one and one next door. New construction in this area isn’t necessarily horrendous. Over two acres of usable ground is enough space and breathing room for most folks. The lot is worth about $75k so you get the house for a bargain price. Maybe it’s not the finest example, but there’s a lot to work with here on the house and landscape and could be a wonderful homestead again.

  7. Don says: 444 comments

    I would say late 1700’s but probably not earler than about 1780, though the house confuses me. The entry suggests the earlier date. While it was probably someone fairly prosperous, Portland was still a small farming community. That arched firebox is definitely atypical. I’ve seen grander houses with features like it, but nothing like it in a more modest home. I’m surprised that the firebox and surrounding paneling were made “fancier” yet, the foyer and the very rustic trim were allowed to remain. Ah, the puzzle of an old house. It’s lovely and I home someone takes it on.

    • Robt. W.Robt. W. says: 355 comments

      Agree with Don about the puzzle of the entry. Assuming all else is right (in the finish treatment of the other rooms), I assumed the entry hall had been crudely reworked in the 19thC and with no finesse whatseover, just (re-)using bits of old plank found lying about in a barn somewhere. The finish woodwork elsewhere is simple, but it has some detail and some attention to scale and proportion and aesthetics, but here the crude, sticky balustrade, the odd pronounced projection of the stair treads and the slapdash casing into the door to the room on the right are out of character – and not in the sense of older work that is cruder and less refined, but of quick, mean later work that repaired some problem/s and left things looking the worse for it.

      Despite the inauspicious start at the entry, the rooms are rather beautiful (either that or I have to get hold of that Andrew Wyeth Instagram filter). The scale is not large, but the proportions are very good, the details really handsome. Get rid of those baseboard heating units (don’t care how popular they are in New England or anywhere, they’re always ugly and wrong) and do a very minimal restoration, then finish it minimally with good Connecticut Valley furniture.

      It does look as though the central chimney has been rebuilt (in its original location.) One of the fireplaces has a 20thC brick surround, and the rear ell and L-shaped porch are probably second quarter 19thC – with some later reworking to the porches with the solid, weatherboarded panels where balustrades should be. As for date, I don’t know New England houses well, or well enough to judge from the photos in this case, but I was also thinking 1780s. The decorative wood paneling seems to fit with that, as do widow sizes, general proportions and mass and roof pitch.

      The immediate area is quite appealing. I wouldn’t dismiss the property it out of hand because of impending new development, though it would be an issue to explore fully.

  8. MW says: 919 comments

    Interesting, right across the street in google street view:

  9. Ann says: 1 comments

    Those floor boards! Bet there are some nice old beams under those plastered ceilings. Would love to see them exposed at least to the face with plaster in-between. Sigh!

  10. KarenB says: 319 comments

    Ah, what a diamond in the rough and how lovely when polished! I, too, think the house is more 18th century. At present, it has a nice setting with nice homes surrounding it. Knowing there are to be 3 new homes built around this one would make me hesitant. Love the artist, so cool! It sounds like a great buy and I would think given the neighborhood the new homes would probably be upscale and maybe period reproductions which wouldn’t be that bad.

  11. natira121natira121 says: 733 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1877 Vernacular
    Columbia River Gorge, WA

    I love this house. It has so much potential! I think it’s way older than stated, and I’m waiting for more experts to pick it apart. I’d love to see more pictures as well. If I had a transporter, I’d be there with my camera. (and a pry bar for snooping out the bee-hive oven)

  12. Barn Doug says: 3 comments

    Dating this style of house in Connecticut can be difficult. The area is very conservative architectually, and I have been in many houses that have most of the characteristics of those built 50 years previous to the actual construction dates. I’d be surprised if this house was from 1800 though, even though there is that distinctive triangular window in the gable that looks from about 1820. The entry is such a throwback and even primitive that at first I assumed it was the entrance to the raised cellar in the ell. On closer inspection (as close as one may do in limited photographs) one may see that the corner posts protrude in not only the main rooms but in the entrance, and some are even the gunstock variety, which are definitely older – or at least an older style of building. The exposed posts and classic layout of the rooms is a 17th century carryover, but this is very probably a mid to late 18th century house that has been updated and even added to over its life. The wide floorboards are probably chestnut.

    The ell fits nicely and seems to be a first quarter 19th century addition – maybe up to 1840. It is obvious that the granite and fieldstone foundation of the older structure changes here to brick, and the porch that wraps the ell is very much an early 19th century form. The attic view is of the ell and is dark enough to not be able to tell much. The collar ties may have half-lap joints to the rafters rather than the older style mortises or bird’s mouth.

    One note: The Hall family has also resided from the 17th century in neighboring Wallingford, where young Aaron Hall at the age of 18 left his father’s farm on Whirlwind Hill Road to join Washington’s army in retreat from Boston on the way to New York. The old houses at that site are long gone, but the barns have been moved and rebuilt (one onsite and one in Northford).

  13. Christine Brown says: 2 comments

    We are now the owners of this magnificent property. Though the property has been subdivided, this lot (2.30 acres) is large, so the new houses currently going up are not close enough to be a burden. It has been about halfway renovated at this point and the biggest challenge has probably been the removal of multiple sheets of wallpaper.

    The Portland Historical Society did provide information from “The History and Architecture of Portland” by Loether, Porteous, & Sherrow, via the Greater Middletown Preservation Trust, 1980.

    Eventually before, during, and after photos of the renovations will be released. If you drive by you will see the gable window on the South side of the house (on the corner of Breezy Corners and Penfield) has been fixed and replaced with a stained glass one-of-a-kind window that was commissioned by a friend that works with stained glass.

  14. Barn Doug says: 3 comments

    Christine, thank you so much for taking on this house and the huge project it will be. You and people like you who are willing to spend your time and treasure on the old places, out of love or insanity or whatever it is which drives us, do the country a great service. Without you and people like you, we would soon be without any physical cultural heritage at all. Best of luck and please do let us know how it works out!


  15. Christine Brown says: 2 comments

    Thank you kindly. We’ve been gathering info from former tenants of the home (they lived here as children) and hope to one day offer a publication of the house’s history that begins where the original stopped.

    This has been a wonderful project and not as challenging as I first expected.

    At this point it is more than halfway renovated. From uninhabitable to absolutely beautiful, though we do need to finish off lots of little things and details.

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