In 1980 the paper mill tycoon Murray Brant and his son Peter paid $18 million for a 1,400-acre tract in Greenwich, Conn., and developed it into a high-end residential community called Conyers Farm. The land comprises parcels totaling 10 acres or more; the Brants gave first choice to Peter’s sister, Irene Brant Zelinsky. “I had the pick of any piece of land that I wanted,” she said. “And what I picked was on my father’s suggestion.” Surrounded by a 300-acre nature preserve, the parcel Zelinsky chose is just a five-minute drive from the Merritt Parkway. “My father said it was the best property because it’s the most secluded,” she said.
Having recently inherited her mother’s house in the same community, Zelinsky is selling her old home for $5.495 million. The buyer of the 6,100-square-foot house (that measurement doesn’t include a partially finished basement) will benefit from Zelinsky’s family’s connection to the property and its surroundings.
“I had a good collection of Federal furniture,” Zelinsky said. “So my brother said to hire Allan Greenberg,” the historical architect who designed the Treaty Room Suite at the U.S. Department of State. “And he came in and designed the house in an authentic Federal style.”
Next, the celebrity decorator (and former boyfriend of Andy Warhol) Jed Johnson designed the interior. “The house has the rarest and best moldings,” Zelinsky said. “It’s really amazing. If you go in and look at the detail in that house, it’s unbelievable.”
The house has seven bedrooms, six baths, and two half-baths; there’s a formal dining room, library, master suite, eat-in kitchen, and several family rooms. The ceilings, Zelinsky said, were built particularly high to accommodate a number of massive paintings. (Her brother Peter, also a noted art collector, founded the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, just a few miles away.)
In pictures included with the listing, astute observers will note works by Robert Rauschenberg, Alexander Calder, Fernando Botero, and no fewer than three paintings and prints by Joan Miró. There were previously works by Alex Katz, Rob Pruitt, and Warhol, including one of his famous “Marilyns,” but “we had to take them out,” Zelinsky said, “because apparently people would walk in and just look at the art.”
The house is set on 10 acres; the property includes manicured gardens, a pool, and, most notably, the preserved ruins of two stone barns that housed migrant workers who worked on the historic Conyers Farm—one housed women, the other housed men. “The reason I know that,” Zelinsky said, “is that when we were building the house, a woman walked up the driveway dressed in black—she must have been 85 or 90 years old—and said to me, ‘Do you still have the buildings back there? Well, I grew up in one of them.’ ” The experience, Zelinsky said, “was eerie. I had goose pimples.”
Prospective buyers have the option of tearing down the ruins, though Zelinsky said it would be a pity. “The fireplaces in the ruins still work—we’ve toasted marshmallows and had campouts in them,” she said. “It all has a fabulous history.”
The house is listed by Scott Elwell and Beverley Toepke at Douglas Elliman.