This beautifully proportioned center
hall colonial was built in 1915 with Sarah Compton listed on the permit as
the original owner. However, Dr. Leo Wolfenstein was the first person to occupy
the house, where he lived for many years with his wife, their four children
and his father Samuel, the retired director of the innovative and very successful
Jewish Orphan Asylum, precursor to Bellefaire.
The home has been extensively
renovated and remodeled by the present owners, who have done much of the work
themselves. They replaced approximately
90% of the walls and ceilings, added insulation to the outer walls, removed
many windows and doors (and moved others) and replaced the roof. They spent six
months cleaning the dark woodwork, using gallons upon gallons of refinishing
solution that loosened the multiple layers of finish and dirt that then had to
be scraped off. They re-routed plumbing
that was situated in the walls between the two rooms that ultimately became the
family room and replaced and upgraded electrical systems throughout the
home. Two forced air furnaces and air
conditioning units replaced the old steam heat radiator system (one set for the
second and third floors; one set for the first floor). All radiators were removed, including one
that was so heavy it had to be cut in half before anyone could move it. Ducts had to be installed for the new heating
and air conditioning units. Servicing
the first floor was easy by placing ducts in the basement for floor vents;
however the second and third floors posed a more challenging problem. The
creative solution was to place ductwork around the perimeter of the house on
the third floor and place vents in the ceilings on the second floor. The furnace for the second and third floors
is cleverly concealed on the third floor in what appears to be a long closet.
Window seats were built in front of the ducts to hide
them from view. One can get a sense of the amount of work involved in the
renovation from the fact that the owners filled the tree lawn (80 feet wide) ten times over with debris
such as plaster, lathe, doors and plumbing fixtures.
The result is a spacious family home that reflects
not only the dedication and hard work of the owners, but also the artistic
talent of one of the owners. The owner
and her sister did much of the artwork displayed throughout the house.
On the first floor, the favorite family space is the
rebuilt back porch and the new deck that opens from the kitchen and the family
room. Removing a wall between two rooms
created the new kitchen. Oddly enough,
there was still a door in that wall, but it was disguised on the kitchen side
by a built-in oven and on the other side by a shelf unit. The owner designed the kitchen layout using a
symmetrical "step" design on each side of the sink and designed the cabinets to
"wrap around" the second room to create a unified space. Eliminating two small rooms created the
On the second floor, two
bathrooms have been remodeled and the master bedroom closet reconfigured. There are five bedrooms and a sitting room,
each given names by the previous owners. The sitting room (appropriately known as the
Juliet room has an arched casement window that opens high above the stairway
landing and is now used as a library and computer room.
The third floor has been completely remodeled, with
every inch of space transformed into a comfortable and attractive living space.
One of the outstanding features of the house is the
planting and brickwork in the front, which earned the home a Community Improvement
Award in 2001. The owner himself did all
the work. This year, the addition of a
new lawn was accompanied by the installation of an underground irrigation
Many original artworks by owner, her sister and other artists throughout
Sidelights and glass panels on vestibule door; fan light over front of
- Ceramic collection on kitchen cabinets and dining room sideboard.
- Collection of patches and badges from states, colleges, etc. in office
on second floor.
- Mask and fan collection in master bedroom.
- Butterfly garden at back of house.