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Going to Town

Authentic, private, and connected on Catoonah



Hulya Kolabas

Ross and Valerie Schneiderman are familiar faces around Ridgefield. Ross can be found sharing tennis scores with patrons behind the counter of his bakery, Ross’ Bread, and Valerie leading a class of meditating yogis at the Yoga Shala in Branchville. 

Though baking and yoga may be their most recent vocations, Val and Ross have deep roots in athletics. Ross boasts a 35-year career producing sports television, covering major events including NCAA Final Fours, Super Bowls, and World Series. He is currently a senior producer with the Tennis Channel. Valerie competed as a rhythmic gymnast in the 1984 Olympic Games, where the couple first met. Years later, reconnecting in Seoul, Korea, during the 1988 Games, the two found love from a friendship and shared passions.

After nearly 15 years in Ridgefield and raising two sons Zach, 21, and Will, 20, the Schneidermans began their search for an empty-nester abode. With close ties to the town, choosing a historic colonial on Catoonah Street seemed only fitting. Set practically in the backyard of St. Mary Church, the quaint blue residence boasts two centuries of history in its walls. Built in 1780, the structure was originally located a quarter-mile away on Abbott Avenue before being resettled on its current foundation a century later.

“There’s an interesting balance between honoring the house that is here and making it livable in 2013,” says Valerie. The Schneidermans found downsizing a challenge. Their previous home on Silver Spring Road was double the size of this 1,600-square-foot colonial, and little of their old furniture would fit in the vintage house. So Valerie browsed local merchants, from the Keeler Tavern sale to Olley Court, to furnish the smaller space.

Renovations were required, but the couple sought to maintain anything that could be salvaged from the home’s historic roots. The shingled siding, wide crown molding, and a colorful stained-glass window from an original exterior wall were all maintained throughout the remodel. A dozen original windows were also saved or moved to fit within the new additions. “I like the imperfection in things,” Valerie says of the home’s heritage. “Even the teeny-tiny, crooked stairs.”

History was found in hidden places as well. While uncovering the original flooring on the second level, Ross and Valerie discovered WWII-era newspapers used to level and insulate former layers of linoleum.

When it came to structural and mechanical changes, Ross and Valerie chose a contractor with local ties and experience with smaller spaces. “We were concerned about perhaps having a builder come in and make a grand house. We didn’t want a grand house,” says Valerie. Contractor Nick Borrell had experience renovating older structures on Lake Waccabuc, and his design aesthetic appealed to the Schneidermans. Embracing the couple’s vision to build modern additions that remained authentic to the house, Borrell began with the fundamentals—like wiring. The old structure contained sockets that smoked from modern-day gadgets. It also lacked built-in lighting and storage space. 

Two closets were constructed near the front door, with white vertical paneling to match that found in the kitchen. A wide arch between the entryway and living room created an open flow for the main floor, connecting all areas easily. Rather than use modern sheetrock, artisan plasterers crafted new walls and structured beams. Clunky radiators were removed and forced heating was installed, with vintage-style grates to cover the openings.

Since a coffee table would not suffice to run two businesses, dormers were added to the roof in the walkup attic to create a spacious, light-filled workspace. Five windows face north, “a great vantage point for a storm,” says Ross. The pleasant atmosphere is the exact opposite of what one might expect from an attic, yet still serves a functional purpose. Wooden cabinets line the wall, hiding the service conduits that run through the belly of the house.

The original home was constructed with three nearly equal-size bedrooms. “You can see where people maybe walked into the home and said, ‘Wow, it’s super sweet, but we couldn’t live here,’” says Valerie. But she had a vision. The master-bedroom addition now includes a transition space between the original home and the new construction. A small Indian Ganesha statue sits on a built-in nook where a closet once stood—now a shelved space for knick-knacks and picture frames.

When constructing the master bedroom and bath, Valerie wanted a more modern feel. Expansive windows across the east wall and minimalist decoration are indicative of her Zen-influenced choices. The bed seems to float above the bamboo flooring—an illusion created by a custom-crafted platform. Two fuzzy sheepskin rugs offer cozy padding on either side.

The practical bathroom has his-and-hers sinks and a steam shower. And, in keeping with the Zen-sanctuary theme, a soaking bathtub is hidden behind three translucent, shoji-inspired panels. A small window allows a view onto the surrounding yard but still offers privacy. Aromatherapy candles and jars of Epsom salts surround the tub, creating a relaxing, spa-like environment.

The grounds complement the home’s heritage and the couple’s modern, minimalistic approach. A small courtyard with casual seating overlooks the rolling lawn of St. Mary. Overgrown brush has been replaced with a bountiful garden. “We found a way to give ourselves a really beautiful, private space without closing ourselves off,” says Valerie.

Perhaps the couple’s favorite aspect of the house is its location near the heart of town, which allowed Ross to walk to Ridgefield Hardware twice a day during construction. Today, you might spot the Schneidermans strolling down Main Street with their yellow lab, Pooka. “You’re very connected to your neighbors—there’s no big, high fence,” says Valerie of the communal way of living on Catoonah. “You wouldn’t move to this street if that’s what you wanted.” 

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December 2018

Take inspired works of art; a Library magically transformed into a sparkling, vibrant gallery; add infectious community enthusiasm... Put it all together and the result is the Mark Twain...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Mark Twain Library
439 Redding Road
Redding, CT  06896
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Sponsor: The Mark Twain Library
Telephone: 203-938-2545
Contact Name: Romy Weinberg
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

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On December 9 from 12 – 3 p.m. bring your knitting projects or spinning wheels and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with seasoned knitters and spinners. They will coach you on your knitting challenges...

Cost: Free, but donations in support of New Pond Farm's fleecy flock will be welcomed!

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
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Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

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Sunday, December 9th at 3:00 PM. Open to all ages. Come to watch several short silent comedies at this fun event hosted by renowned silent film accompanist and historian Ben Model. Ben Model...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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James Lancel McElhinney, journal-artist, author, Yale alumnus and  Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient will unfold the epic story of painted books, from the Age of Exploration to the digital era. He...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Library
Telephone: 203-438-2282
Contact Name: Laurie McGavin Bachmann
Website »

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Christmas with the Celts returns to The Playhouse after sold-out performance for the past three seasons! This holiday show features a mix of lively traditional Irish music and instrumentation with...

Cost: $47.50

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

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Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

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Create bold shapes and blocks of colors in this fun process-based workshop! Mark off lines and forms on canvas with artist’s tape, then paint your heart out. When the paint is dry, peel away the...

Cost: $15; $13.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

  The Ridgefield Historical Society is hosting a holiday event on    Tuesday, December 11: A Festive Soirée at the Schoolhouse The Peter Parley Schoolhouse, intersection of West Lane and...

Cost: $40 for members $50 for nonmembers

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5821

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Second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM at Keeler Library. Extra copies of the books are available for checkout. No registration is required and drop-ins are welcome.   Tuesday, December 11th at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 8pm Pepsi Rock Series powered by Xfinity Holiday Series After reuniting for sold out tours in 2013 and 2016, this chart-topping quartet — featuring...

Cost: Tickets: $125 Gold Circle | $98 Orchestra/Balcony

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 E Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Ridgefield Playhouse
Website »

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Wednesday, Dec. 12. The Bedford Chamber Concert Series continues its 2018-19 season, featuring an all-Vivaldi holiday program. Anthony Newman and the Bedford Chamber Ensemble will perform “The...

Cost: $45 per person

Where:
St. Matthew's Church Fellowship Hall
382 Cantitoe Street
Bedford, NY  10506
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Sponsor: St. Matthew's Music Committee
Telephone: 914-522-5150
Contact Name: Anthony Newman
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Family Workshop: Holiday Origami 10 am to 12 noon; children ages 2 to 5 1 to 3 pm; children ages 6 to 10   Get in the holiday spirit at The Aldrich! Using introductory origami techniques...

Cost: Free!

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Come and meet award-winning columnist, author, and founder of Jackson, Grant Investment Advisers, Inc, Julie Jason. She'll be signing her most recent books, The Retirement Survival Guide, Managing...

Cost: 0

Where:
Barnes & Noble at the Stamford Town Center
100 Greyrock Place
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Julie Jason
Telephone: 203-322-1198
Contact Name: Theresa Robbins
Website »

More information

On Saturday, December 15th, at 6:30 PM, New Pond Farm Education Center will be hosting a public astronomy program where we hope to see Comet Wirtanen and some meteors from the Geminid meteor...

Cost: $4 per New Pond Farm member (max. $16 per family) and $6 per non-member (max. $2

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Contact Name: New Pond Farm
Website »

More information

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