Developer will turn Connecticut lighthouse into a giant playroom for his grandkids

February 22, 2017

In 2004, New York-based developer and builder Frank Sciame paid $6 million for the 3.4-acre waterfront Connecticut estate of the late Katharine Hepburn. In late 2015, he also dropped $290,000 at auction for the Old Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse, which is within walking distance to the estate. The 131-year-old lighthouse was built in 1886 to mark a sand bar on the west side of the Connecticut River, but it will soon see a new life as a giant children’s playroom. The Post reports that Sciame asked yacht-design architects Persak & Wurmfeld to redesign the structure as a clubhouse for his grandkids, complete with the original cast-iron windows and portholes, watch room and lantern room, and upper wrap-around deck.

10 Mohegan Drive via Planomatic

After buying the estate, Sciame divided the site, which includes 680 feet of private Long Island Sound beachfront, into three parcels. The main house at 10 Mohegan Drive, known as the Hepburn estate, is a renovated six-bedroom home built in 1939. It was last on the market for $14.8 million and is expected to return this spring.

6 Mohegan Drive via William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty

The second parcel, 6 Mohegan Drive, is a three-bedroom home built in 2015. It’s currently on the market for $6.88 million and could be used as a guest cottage for the estate. Owners of both properties can buy memberships to the Fenwick community golf course and tennis courts.

Rendering via Persak & Wurmfeld for Sciame Construction

The third parcel is a vacant lot that Sciame doesn’t plan to sell, though he doesn’t sound as though he plans to erect another residence here. “I’ve decided to spend more time with my family using our boat, and the lighthouse is the perfect way to keep a connection to Fenwick after we’ve sold the Hepburn house.” To that end, the Post details what’s in the works for the lighthouse:

Plans call for a first-floor entrance foyer with storage, a second-floor master cabin, a kids’ cabin with bunk beds on the third floor, and a fourth-floor “salon” — a living room area with a sofa, end tables and a coffee table — and a galley kitchen. The fifth floor will feature a bar and an outdoor deck with a wraparound balcony that boasts a 360-degree view of the Long Island Sound and Connecticut River.

Sciame feels confident in terms of safety, noting that the lighthouse withstood both hurricanes Sandy and Irene. It’s listed on the National Register for Historic Places and is featured on some specialty state license plates. Those concerned with whether or not Sciame will retain its historic integrity should take comfort in the fact that he’s a former chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum and the New York Landmarks Conservancy and he’s worked on historic restoration projects, including that of the Guggenheim Museum’s exterior.

When he and an anonymous partner bought the lighthouse, the the US General Services Administration didn’t sell the land submerged in the water beneath it. They’re currently leasing this for $23,500 for 30 years with the option to renew after that time. It’s not yet clear if he’s received the necessary permits and approvals to move forward with the conversion.

[Via NYP]


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