Connecticut Estate on the Market for $19.99M
Owner Michael Konover talks about the history of the Talcott Mountain estate in Avon, which was first developed by Daniel Wadsworth in the early 1800s.
When Michael Konover first saw the 115-acre estate atop Talcott Mountain on Montevideo Road, he immediately fell in love with it.
So, he bought it in 1987 for $6 million from Katherine Vidal Smith, the stepmother of American writer Gore Vidal, who died on July 31.
“When I saw this with the beautiful views and its own 12-acre lake and all of this acreage, I couldn’t believe that it even existed this close to Hartford and West Hartford and Avon,” said Konover, who is retired and owns Konover Development Corporation in Farmington.
Konover and his wife – now empty-nesters – have decided the property is too much for two people and have put the entire estate on the market for $19.99 million. About 87 acres is in Avon and the other 28 is in Bloomfield, Carrington said. They hope to sell it as one piece of land, according to Konover.
“The property has seen weddings and all kinds of nice events. People come up here and fall in love with it like I did,” Konover said. “I do think that the ultimate buyer is someone that has to fall in love with this kind of property.”
Daniel Wadsworth – the arts patron who founded Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum in 1842, according to the museum’s website – designed the original main house on the estate in the early 1800s.
Konover and his family moved from Deercliff Road in Avon – where he also enjoyed beautiful views – in 1991. He knocked down the original main house at 333 Montevideo Road to build a new 6,964-square-foot home, according to land records.
"It was built to reflect the many nuances of the Arts and Crafts Movement while incorporating some of the eyeliftying grandeur found in the Gothic Period," said Bif Carrington, Konover's real estate broker from the Litchfield Hills branch of Sothby's International Realty.
The four-bedroom house includes a 1,000-square-foot studio where his wife makes ceramic art. The home, made predominantly of brick and steel, has tall ceilings and is filled with natural light from big glass windows. A patio overlooking an expansive lawn and pond makes for a good place to entertain.
There are also three cottages, built in the early 19th Century, on the estate – known as The Parsonage, Stone Cottage and North Cottage – that are rented out to three families. The tenants will continue to live there after the property sells, but will just have a new landlord.
Horses used to be kept on the property, which also has three Victorian-era barns built between 1813 and 1815. The estate continues to be animal-friendly, as all of the tenants have pets.
Every day, Konover brings his people-loving labradoodle, Marley, to the dock on Hoe Pond – the 12-acre, 22-foot-deep pond on the estate. If the weather’s nice, they go for a swim or take one of his un-motorized boats for a ride. The dock is a peaceful place to sit and gaze at picturesque reflections of the landscape. There is also a raft further out in the water and a boathouse alongside the pond. A nature-lover at heart, Konover enjoys sharing the space with wildlife, such as two geese — called Hank and Henrietta — that migrated back there for seven years.
The spot is rumored to have been Mark Twain's "favorite swimming hole," and Carrington said that information in The Correspondance of Thomas Cole and Daniel Wadsworth, published in 1983, and the Connecticut Historical Archives said he used the pond.
The pond – which once was the location of a girls summer camp – is named after Robert Hoe, who came to own the land in 1890. He used the main house as his summer home and the property title was transferred to Cornelia Whitehead when he died. When she passed away, her husband, Owen Roberts – Katherine Vidal Smith’s father – inherited the property. He left the estate to her.
The pond and mountains are what Konover loves most about his land. His estate borders Talcott Mountain State Forest, with private access to trails that lead to the iconic Heublein Tower. He frequents the other hiking trails on the property and often walks down to the West Hartford Reservoir with his wife. He enjoys views of the valley below and can spot both Riverdale Farms and Avon Congregational Church from his ridgeline property.
So, it’s no wonder that American painter Thomas Cole, a friend of Wadsworth’s, captured the Montevideo landscapes in some of his paintings. One known spot where he painted is called South Rock.
Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both visited the Montevideo estate on their way to see the Heublein Tower, Carrington said the book of letters between Cole and Wadsworth and historical society arhives indicate.
The abundance of trees along Montevideo afford Konover much appreciated privacy.
There are about 20 houses in total on his one-mile stretch of private road and the residents all have easements to use the road. Narrow and wooded, Montevideo Road stretches from a dead end that used to connect to Route 44 to the Bloomfield town line. Parsons Way is now the only access to the neighborhood off Route 44.
The houses on Montevideo are spread out, but that doesn’t mean the residents aren’t neighborly. During the October snowstorm last year, Konover took in some people to stay with him because he had a generator.
“When we lose power or can’t get out of the road when trees are down, we all come together and usually have a potluck dinner or something,” Konover said.
Konover hopes the next estate owners will enjoy the privacy and the beauty of the land as much as he did. As he and his wife consider renting in West Hartford Center or Avon when they are not at their Florida home, he sees it as time for a new chapter in the estate’s history.
“Enjoy,” he said. “It’s very special.”
Posted by John William Tuohy