While this 10,000-square-foot home listed for $1,375,000 in Branford, CT, is dreamy enough—check out the handcarved bar!—the real value lies in a musical instrument installed in the home: a historic pipe organ.
It’s one of only 117 made by the Skinner Organ Co., says Joseph Dzeda of Thompson-Allen Co., a pipe organ restoration business in New Haven, CT. Skinner organs “were the Rolls-Royce of their day,” Dzeda says, and only 18 remain today.
The homeowners refer to their organ as “Little Sister of Woolsey Hall,” in reference to the famous organ on the Yale University campus 10 miles away. With 1,500 pipes, and a dedicated pipe room in the basement,
The organ was custom-made for the 10,000-square-foot home and installed in 1927. It has 1,500 pipes in a dedicated room in the basement.
“I’ve known the instrument for 50 years, but it’s been an on-and-off basis,” says Dzeda. “It’s entirely intact and original.”
Maintaining the pipe organ is a true commitment. For a potential buyer, “it needs more than just normal maintenance,” says Dzeda. “It needs be dismantled and cleaned.”
A couple of owners ago, “the organ went back into its normal state of slumber,” says Dzeda. However, a buyer in the 1980s “bought the house because the organ fascinated him.” It’s easy to see why when the old instrument sounds off with a lovely tune.
But let’s get in tune with the nine-bedroom, seven-bath home itself. Called Pine Orchard, the property—which is co-listed with Nikki Travaglino of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty —was built during the 1890s when Alden Young began building a summer home.
“We have five documented owners, but there may have been more,” says Travaglino. “During the late 1980s, a family hired skilled woodcarvers from Poland who lived in the home for a few years while completing all of the handcarved woodworking.”
In addition to those carvings, the home features wood-paneled rooms—some with coved ceilings—throughout. The kitchen with its open layout and master bath with its soaking tub are some of the luxe amenities that bring this home into contemporary times. A pergola offers spectacular views of the Long Island Sound.
Work done in 1927 included the addition of an entertaining hall (where the organ is). The current homeowner had some work done on the infrastructure as well as structural and electrical updates, says Travaglino. An automatic generator was also installed.
“There is quite a market for people who would love to buy such an instrument as this,” says Dzeda, who estimates the cost of a pipe organ akin to the one in this home to be around $800,000. “But it’s a lot like a museum painting—no one is making anything quite like that these days.”
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