GREENWICH — Chris Thurlow was smitten with the old house at 198 Shore Road when she first laid eyes on it, after searching for the right home in Greenwich for months.
“When I found this house, I just fell in love. It’s down by the water, and it has a neighborhood with side streets where the children could play,” she recalled about the Old Greenwich home she first saw 41 years ago. “It was just perfect for us. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
The home, a Shore Colonial, also provided a great view of the water.
“It was the most wonderful place to wake up in the morning — even in January, when there’s nothing but ice and birds. It’s idyllic. Every morning, I thanked God I lived in that beautiful spot,” Thurlow said.
There was one thing missing, however, and that was some gardens and flowers.
“I’m from Virginia, so the first thing I did, as my mother had, was start a garden,” she said. “Of course everything died immediately.”
The soil, unlike what she was used to in Virginia, had an unusually high alkaline content.
“So I had to experiment. My mom, who was a gardener, gave me $200 dollars, which was a lot of money back then, and said ‘buy two of every plant. Put one in the front and one one in the back, see what survives, and that will tell you what to grow.’ I started from there.”
Thurlow is a persistent gardener, and over the course of four decades has put her heart and soul into the gardens at Shore Road. “A lot of effort. I’ve spent a lot of time, understanding how to make this beautiful spot more beautiful,” she said.
Thurlow became a master gardener “and really went to work” on the grounds of her home. The gardens have been blooming ever since, with irises, rose bushes, day lilies, peonies and ground geraniums -- hardy plants that can stand the waterfront climate.
She’s mixed different kinds of annuals and perennials like a color palette to give different colors to the seasons.
“It gives an ever changing look. In the springtime it’s pink and blue. Then it changes, as the year goes along. The garden is changing, but it’s constantly full,” she said. “I found this talent inside me — I knew how to put gardens together.”
Thurlow created her gardens without pesticides and with only natural materials. She set up bird houses to keep pesky winged critters at bay: “Birds were my insect control, and I never used any pesticides.”
Access to a dock and a little beach gave the Thurlow family and their two children great recreational opportunities. Chris Thurlow and her husband, Steven Thurlow, a former professional football player, also hosted their six grandchildren at the home on weekends.
“The children always had a lot of good outdoor activities,” she said. There was water-skiing and bonfires, and one of Thurlow’s sons made money trapping and selling lobsters.
A renovation was carried out after a big nor’easter in 1992, and the home was raised four feet. The house stayed dry during hurricanes Sandy and Irene.
The home lends itself well to entertaining. Every Fourth of July for nearly 40 years, a big party has been held at the house with as many as 200 people playing badminton and volley ball on the grounds.
As to the house, it’s casual and inviting, Thurlow said.
“What I do not have is a wine cellar. Media and work-out center? Don’t have it,” she joked.
“It does have a beautiful open view, a nice fireplace in the living room, a great place to congregate, an open kitchen into the family room — nice if you’re fixing dinner. And there’s a wonderful deck off the master bedroom that overlooks the Long Island Sound, a beautiful place to read the paper and have a cup of coffee in the morning,” the homeowner said.
The neighborhood around Lucas Point is another attraction. The area was developed by Edwin Lucas who filled in the swampy section of Old Greenwich from fill excavated from the New York subway system, using barges and horses and wagons for transport. The home was built in 1929.
“It has a wonderful neighborhood environment,” said Thurlow, who is seeking to live in a smaller residence now that she’s in her 70s.
She’ll miss the old place when she’s gone.
“Beautiful property, and a God-given view of Long Island Sound,” she concluded.
The listing agent, Rob Johnson of Halstead Property, who is the son-in-law of Chris Thurlow, said it was a unique property.
“It’s an unusual size for Lucas Point," Johnson said. The residence, 3,500 square feet on a .64 acre lot, can be expanded. “The size of the lot and the access to a private beach, that’s unique,” he said.
The property is being listed through Halstead Property at $5,495,000.
Thursday, December 29, 2016