Several years ago Daniel Frisch spent the morning looking at properties without much success. He was going to be late for his golf game, but there was one more property and since it was near the club he really wanted to have a look.
“The property had been for sale forever,” says Frisch. “It was one of two large parcels owned by the Kallstroms that straddled Kent Hollow Road. I walked 100 yards out and knew this was what we had been looking for.” The Kallstrom family were one of several families that had been in Kent Hollow for many years and owned extraordinary runs of property, some of which had been incorporated into the Kent Land Trust. The 50-plus acres of land had been referred to by the Kallstroms as Tompkins West, which they had purchased from the Tompkins family in 1917.
In the middle of the west parcel of the original farm was a farmhouse and yard and a garage with parking carved out of the east parcel across Kent Hollow Road. On December 12, 2012 (hence the name of the property), the Frisches and the Kent Land Trust executed a conservation easement comprised of 22 acres including wetlands, forest, and a portion of a stream feeding the west Aspetuck River. The Frisches then purchased the house and garage parcels as well.
“The property, needless to say, was in dire need of restoration,” says Frisch, “and the Kallstrom brothers worked with us to initiate the work that had to be done.”
Frisch had decided two things before he even bought the property: that everything would be done locally and that he would incorporate as many energy-efficient features as he could into the renovations. Frisch, an award-winning architect with his own firm, has made the latter one of his primary goals in his designs. “The project was indeed challenging—much more so than I had realized,” he says. The land was in need of restoration, the barn with its gaping holes, seemed almost impossible to save. But those issues seemed minor when compared to the condition of the house and garage.
“The main house dates back to 1760, making it one of the oldest houses in the area,” Frisch explains, “but it was encrusted in 20th century additions that had altered the structure signi cantly, beginning with the vinyl siding.” Frisch persevered and when the additions were removed the original post and beam structure was revealed and the restoration process began.
“Once we realized the preservation significance, and with my training, I just couldn’t knock it down. I knew I was in it for the long haul.” And a long, but satisfying, haul it was.
The 30-by-40-foot house was given a new concrete foundation and the original 2,000 square feet grew to 5,300 square feet of living space on three levels. Whenever possible Frisch retained as many of the original elements as he could. The existing 12-over-12, double-hung window sashes were used both as windows and sliding doors for the kitchen cabinets.
The original fieldstone replace and beehive oven were preserved and the chimney reconstructed. Oak and chestnut sheathing boards found beneath the plaster were reclaimed and made into countertops for the kitchen, wet bar, and master vanity.
The below-grade room at the northeast corner of the firstfloor was repurposed as a naturally conditioned wine room.
“Among the energy-saving aspects of our home is the gray metal roof. Underneath the metal is tubing, the equivalent of geothermal. On top of the roof, the temperature is 62 degrees; in the summer it gets to be 142 degrees, so our shower water is heated by the roof,” says Frisch.
“Even in the winter we feel the advantage of that feature.”
Speaking of the roof, above the sunroom, laundry, mudroom, and guest room, is a green living roof wrapping around the master bedroom. The sedum and wild flowers provide a becoming foreground to the long view of the hollow. A pair of French doors opens onto a small outside sitting area with two chairs—the perfect place to read.
The Frisches used local artisans and suppliers for the renovations and the construction was managed and overseen by Jared Stein, a general contractor and New Milford native.
“What I am trying to do is set an example and have people learn from it,” Frisch says. “Designing isn’t that hard; programing is hard. It isn’t just about saving energy, it’s about living better and spreading the word.” And Frisch seems to have successfully mastered that art.