Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Dynamic Duo

Transforming a celebrated cottage into a thoroughly modern home



Photos by Rana Faure

At 1,900 square feet, this Oscaleta Road home is small compared to the Ridgefield average, which measures in at 2,900 square feet. But to Daniel Levine and Matthew Farnsworth, two formerly city-trapped Broadway actors, it’s their own private manse.

“I thought that I’d never leave New York,” says Levine, whose Broadway credits include Les Misérables, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Little Shop of Horrors. This summer he played Nathan Detroit in Guys & Dolls in Seattle and Minneapolis. They’ve lived in Manhattan since the early 1990s, then a few years ago the two decided to buy an apartment together. However, they soon realized that spending more than $1 million for a small apartment was crazy. “I love digging in the dirt, listening to birds, and just being outdoors,” says Levine. “Here you can get so much more space. Plus you can just let the dogs outside. You don’t have to walk them all the time.”

Levine’s brother and family live in Redding and introduced them to Deb McCarty of William Raveis. Originally scoping three bedrooms, they agreed to view this two-bedroom 1940s cottage, up a windy driveway just off West Mountain. “At first I wouldn’t look at it,” says Farnsworth, but Levine insisted. “When we saw it, I loved it, and Dan said no.” Explains Levine: “It had a nice yard, but I didn’t like the house.” Eventually they both saw the potential and were intrigued a bit by the home’s lineage.

Built in 1942, the stone home’s one-time owner was Jolie Gabor—mother to Hungarian-born movie stars Eva, Magda, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was married to Count Odon de Szigethy and ran a big jewelry business in the city and eventually sold the house in 1970, but left her glamourous touches behind. The next owners added a master bedroom and some modernization. “When we first looked at the house, there were paintings of the Gabor daughters on the wall, but the owners sold them on eBay,” says Farnsworth, incredulous. “We’re still trying to find them.”

“We did a few things after we closed on the house,” Levine says, in a wild understatement. “We took down a wall here,” explains Farnsworth, standing in the wide open main part of the house between the kitchen area and the living room. They raised the headers over doorways, which gives a real sense of more space. “We liked the knotty pine beams, but put drywall over much of it, leaving them exposed on the ceiling. It felt too much like a cabin.” They put in a new bathroom, hardwood floors, 22 new windows, and three-zoned central heating and AC. Plus a new roof with solar panels for heating the pool. The main entryway to the house was closed in to make way for a waterfall feature that welcomes guests approaching from the side of the house.

Outside, they fenced in much of the two acres and gave the mature gardens a total makeover. “I cleared away a lot of stuff, and brought in some great new plants and flowers,” says Levine. “I also added a few birdhouses.” To complement the existing pool, they added a small poolhouse, deck, and hot tub. “And we did it all in six weeks,” interjects Farnsworth, “because Dan was leaving for an extended show.” By “we” they mean Mark Ciferri of Atlantic Building.

In addition to Farnsworth’s Broadway credits of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cats, The Who’s Tommy, and Curtains, he also works behind the scenes with the talent, a calling he fell into when he was hired to help the cast of the original Rent prep for the show. Now he is a sought-after vocal teacher for movies and Broadway shows. Levine meanwhile runs a large tutoring business for high-school and college students while he’s not in a show.

“We love to have friends up to just hang out,  and we garden and swim in the pool,” says Levine. When they venture out, it is to Sarah’s Wine Bar (where they performed one night), Luc’s, Mannen, and the Cutting Board. And to shop, they go to Olley Court on Main Street and a few other shops. “Pretty much every day I find myself at Ridgefield Hardware,” says Farnsworth.

“We’re still totally connected to the city, but this has greatly improved our quality of life,” says Levine. “He’s not yet Farmer Dan,” Farnsworth jokes. “We’re still city boys, but I don’t know for how long.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Victorian Sparkle

One has only to drive along upper Main Street, just beyond the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, to notice the brightly colored Victorian dressed in vivid purple and green

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Acclaimed soprano Justine Aronson (seen in photo with Alma Mahler) and Music from Copland House present rare performances of Schoenberg's Ein Stelldichein,...

Cost: $25, $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
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...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Town Hall, Lower Conference Room
400 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Commission on Aging Town Committee
Contact Name: Debra Franceschini-Gatje

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
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...

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...

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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...

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
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Draw inspiration from your favorite emoticons in this workshop inspired by emojis! Design symbols that convey emotion, represent an object or favorite food, or faces that make you giggle! All ages

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

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


Website »

More information

Friday mornings from 10:30 to 12:30. Free, no registration. Open to adults and older teens. Participants are asked to bring their own supplies in, but some basic supplies will be provided by the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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...

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...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags