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Monday, June 24 Local

Historic Ridgefield home with Revolutionary heritage

RIDGEFIELD — The stone house at 34 Grandview Drive has its own place in Ridgefield’s history, but perhaps its most significant claim to fame is the Revolutionary War barracks that were once set up 500 feet from its doors.

In 1779, Colonel Charles Armand selected the western end of Ridgefield as the headquarters for his all-Frenchman corps of Continental soldiers. The barracks were established “500 feet west from the present garage” of 34 Grandview, built in the 1930s by a cosmetic company executive.

“The location was ideal for Armand’s purposes, being situated 960 feet above sea level and commanding a view along the Hudson River and the mountain ranges which ringed the area,” Silvio Bedini, a Ridgefield native, wrote in a “Ridgefield in Review.”

The spot was named Grandview because of this view and is thought to be one of the highest points in town, according to the historical society. Armand would maintain his barracks there until late in the summer of 1780.

Bedini writes that he was commended for “notable success” during forays into targets in Westchester and Putnam Counties, including the capture of Major Mansfield Bearmore. He includes quotes from letters written to Armand by George Washington later in the war and notes that Armand would eventually be under Washington’s direct orders.

The current estate was built on the property more than a century later by cosmetic executive Benjamin E. Levy, who founded the American branch of the French company Coty.

Levy built the home in the 1930s originally as a hunting lodge on a property that once stretched 300 acres.

Most of that original home’s features have been kept up, listing agent Laura Freed Ancona said, and harken back to that era.

The home includes three stone chimneys, which correspond to three fireplaces, each with a single slab of granite mantle piece. The lower half of the house is also made of field-stone and the yard includes stone walls, steps and a vine-covered pergola.

“They just don’t build homes like this (anymore),” Freed Ancona said. “The quality of masonry and stonework is just a lost art form you don’t see today.”

The views that gave the spot its name are still “stunning,” Freed Ancona added.

Inside, original features also include the windows and doors and a butler’s pantry with original drain boards and cupboards. The kitchen and bathrooms have been updated, she added.

The six-bedroom home is on the market for $1.45 million.