For Jean and Lincoln Sander, the 1748 Benjamin Curtiss House was a rare find. This classic center-chimney Colonial in Connecticut was in pristine condition. Knowledgeable antiques dealers had lived in the house for much of its recent history; loving care was written all over it. The house had not been remodeled. In fact, the only incursions were minor—such as wall-to-wall broadloom carpeting—and dated to a three-and-a-half year period of habitation by the sole owners not into its heritage.
Lincoln Sander is a founding member and former executive director of the Antique Dealers Association of America. He and Jean became another set of sympathetic owners. Not that Jean was sold immediately on the idea. Structural work and updates were necessary, including a new furnace, roof, and siding. Jean jokes, “I started working on the house when we first moved in, and never stopped.”
Her claim is undoubtedly true, and her dedication to doing everything right partly to blame. For example, she hand-dyed upholstery and curtain fabrics to achieve just the right tone, using hand-selected fine fabrics to do antique sofas and chairs justice. Colors echo throughout the interior, bringing sumptuous continuity. The front rooms of the house are virtually untouched from their original state.
Judging from extant outbuildings, which include a corncrib, the house was a farm at one time. Still, unlike humble farmhouses, the interior of this one has high ceilings and big rooms, testimony to the original owner’s wealth. Built-in corner cupboards and seven fireplaces, including a fireplace in the basement that once served as a summer kitchen, were part of the charm.
Jean went to Historic Deerfield (Mass.) and Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia) to copy the bed hangings. A friend steered her to an artisan in Poland, who did the intricate crewel work. Every square foot of the Curtiss house shows attention to detail, astute knowledge, and love of old houses.
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Furnishing with Antiques
Professionally, the owners have been dealers specializing in 18th-century New England antiques. They moved into the 1748 Connecticut house with a vast personal collection, which includes some truly extraordinary pieces. “We look at antique furniture as art,” says Lincoln Sander.
To be faithful to the house’s roots, they’ve focused on Connecticut’s primary early furniture makers, taking just a few notable detours into the neighboring Hudson Valley. That “huskier” Dutch furniture has dimensions Lincoln finds appealing. He often can pinpoint the city or region where a piece was made. Less cross-pollination took place, so style elements tended to be distinct to a region.
inspiration Historic Deerfield Historic houses & collections reflecting Conn. River Valley heritage
interior storm windows Allied Window Indow Windows Innerglass Window Systems Mon-Ray
early lighting Authentic Designs Handmade reproductions Classic Lighting Devices (860) 267-8814 Authentic New England Colonial lighting Historic Housefitters Hand-forged lighting Period Lighting Fixtures Handmade early American Deep Landing Workshop Custom-crafted lighting