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The Fire Inside

Breathing New Life into Fairfield’s Oldest Home



Photos by Adam Lerner

Owning a piece of history in his hometown became possible for Rich Pinto when Fairfield’s oldest home went into foreclosure. In 2013, after moving back home after a career in automotive design at General Motors in Detroit—where he worked on the Cadillac brand—he let his curiosity get the best of him one day when he went out to see a newly listed home in Southport. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Captain John Osborne House, circa 1674, is a center chimney saltbox, a classic example of 17th-century New England architecture.

“I really had no intention of purchasing the home,” explains Pinto. “The fact that it was so old is what really caught my attention. After spending nearly two hours walking around the property, I started to think ‘you know, this could work.’”

The unassuming saltbox was previously owned by Lowell and Nancy Hess, who decided to sell it to Munson Builders, a move that caused a stir among local groups dedicated to preserving the town’s rich history. In the end, the home ended up going into foreclosure. Empty and in need of repair, it stood waiting for the right buyer with a solid vision. 

Most people would have walked away from the challenge of taking this home into the current century, but for Pinto, it just sparked his creativity. He brought back his trusted contractor Steve Edwards to look at the property. After an extensive review, Pinto purchased the home and began his roughly two-year renovation journey. 

Pinto’s experience in industrial design, coupled with his deep knowledge of art history, gave him the perfect toolkit for this project. One of the first tasks was to look at the home as a whole and determine how to improve the overall flow and maximize the space inside. “Working on a house this old, where the construction techniques were different, and nothing is straight or true, requires a bit of artistry,” explains Pinto. 

The home is comprised of three parts, a central base with two separate wings, which weren’t added until the 20th Century. The historic records for the home suggest the attached kitchen wing was a former tollhouse moved from the King’s Highway bridge by nearby Casco Brook. The kitchen ceiling was so low it would have been a challenge to install modern appliances. Pinto saw an opportunity to open up the space entirely, while leaving the original second floor windows to encourage natural light.

From the outside, you may imagine a bit of Old Sturbridge Village inside, but it’s the opposite. A self-described mid-century-modern design enthusiast, Pinto needed to find a way to add his signature style. “The finish work took an incredible amount of time, but that’s what happens when you are a designer and it’s your own home,” says Pinto.

For the exterior, Pinto chose a bold off-black satin paint, rather than a stain, which took 20 variants to find the right hue. The trim is painted in the same color and the cedar shake roof was left in its natural color for added texture.

The open airy kitchen was finished with clean white cabinets, black quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. Modern track lighting lines the wood beams throughout the home, making for an unexpected juxtaposition of old and new. 

The heart of the home is marked by three back-to-back hearths, the largest of which includes a working wood-burning oven that faces into his dining room. Pinto is known among friends and family for his famous pizza parties, where guests take part in the process from assembly to cooking to tasting.

“It takes a long time to get the oven to temperature, but then the pizzas cook in a snap,” says Pinto. “Everyone gets involved—especially my son, Miles.”


PERFECT SLICE of history
At a recent gathering (photo at top), Pinto and his buddies made and tasted pizzas topped with ingredients like artisanal cured meats, figs, fresh mozzarella, arugula, mushrooms, and sauce from Gaetano’s in Westport. Son Miles is the resident taste tester; he loves his dad’s margarita pizza. Guests were styled by Mollie Milano of stylespies.com in spring men’s fashion available at Mitchells of Westport. 

 

 

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July 2018

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Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

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Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
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Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

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Cost: $50-$360

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Waveny Park
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More information

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Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

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Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203.413.6735
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Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Starting at $52

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Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
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Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
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View map »


Website »

More information

An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Starting at $52

Where:
Webster Bank Arena (Bridgeport)
, CT


Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
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Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
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View map »


Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Website »

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Show More...
Show Less...

A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
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View map »


Website »

More information

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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
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Website »

More information

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Corteo, one of Cirque du Soleil’s most successful shows on record, comes to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for seven shows from July 18-22, 2018. Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is...

Cost: Starting at $52

Where:
Webster Bank Arena (Bridgeport)
, CT


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Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
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The Bruce Museum spotlights the creative energy and vitality of fine art created by regional high school students in the 8th annual iCreate exhibition. Opening on June 9 and continuing...

Cost: Adults $10; Students and Seniors $8; Members and Children Under 5 Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203.413.6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Fairfield Sidewalk Sale & Street Fair Saturday, July 21, 2018 10:00am-4:00pm, Rain or Shine First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that the Town of Fairfield and Fairfield...

Cost: free

Where:
Downtown Fairfield
Post Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Town of Fairfield & Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-256-3120
Contact Name: Mark Barnhart
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A series of graphic novel-style panels designed by illustrator Kirk Manley tells the dramatic story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the...

Cost: Members: Free; Adults: $5; Seniors & Students: $3; children 5 and under: Free.

Where:
Fairfield Museum
370 Beach Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Mock Stock is going Metal in a nod to AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and Metallica.  Halfway to HELL (Tribute to AC/DC)- Halfway to HELL- AC/DC Tribute features a High energy stage show with two...

Cost: Tickets $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
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Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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Lost In The Flood is a tribute to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Frank Bergonzi - Vocals Dave "Hatch" Hadshinow - Keys Joe Tomasulo - Organ Mark "Maff" Maffei - Drums...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levitt Pavilion
40 Jesup Road
Westport, CT  06880
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
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The Magpie Salute brings together the reunited guitar team of Rich Robinson and Marc Ford from the Black Crowes, bassist Sven Pipien (also from the Crowes) along with lead...

Cost: $48

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company in The Warehouse
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Egotistical leading man, director, and producer Fred Graham is reunited with his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, when the two are forced to play opposite one another in a new production of...

Cost: $50-$360

Where:
Waveny Park
70 Pine St.
New Canaan, CT  06840
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An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) was London’s longest-running comedy having clocked a very palpable nine...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Christine's Garden
151 Main Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Corteo, one of Cirque du Soleil’s most successful shows on record, comes to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for seven shows from July 18-22, 2018. Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is...

Cost: Starting at $52

Where:
Webster Bank Arena (Bridgeport)
, CT


Website »

More information

Garden Menagerie Exhibition on view through August 25, 2018 during regular library hours Garden Menagerie, features a variety of works by Alex Sax and a selection of nineteenth-century books...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 120-325-9034615
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

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Hiking and practicing yoga outside in the fresh air leaves you feeling uplifted, centered, and peaceful! In warm weather months, we meet regularly in various parks and trails. Each event starts...

Cost: Three and Five Class Packages (3 times for $33, 5 times for $42)

Where:
Vary with each class
, CT


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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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