Ralph Alswang, Sr.’s work calendar was perpetually crammed with projects for Broadway stages. just as his creative mind was always brimming with artistic and innovative ideas, necessitating downtime at his own private oasis at 30 Valley Forge Road in Weston.
The resume of the prominent and prolific Broadway theater scene designer and architect was equally full with more than 100 stage credits to his name including “The Rainmaker,” “Sunrise at Campobello,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Two’s Company,” with Bette Davis, and “Peter Pan, starring Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff,” all produced in the 1950s, and “King Lear,” and Neil Simon’s first play, “Come Blow Your Horn,” in the 1960s.
“Despite the demand for him as a designer, Mr. Alswang found time to design and build homes for friends, either in the suburbs near his home in Westport or at his favorite resort, St. Croix in the Virgin Islands … Mr. Alswang … was at the peak of his profession … when he virtually abandoned the stage to forge a new career designing theaters,” according to his New York Times obituary of February 16, 1979. The obit referred to him as “one of the nation’s foremost designers of theaters.”
Is it any wonder Alswang chose a secluded setting along the banks of the Saugatuck River as a place to relax, revive and refresh? Alswang not only retreated to this natural resort-like 2.19-acre level property. He created it. The eight-room, 3,400-square-foot contemporary house was designed and built in 1957 by Alswang, who modeled it on the mid-century modern classic Glass House, Philip Johnson’s famed residential structure in New Canaan.
Alswang’s concept was to capture views of its beautiful and peaceful surroundings from every room through its tall walls of windows. “High-end natural materials including reclaimed wood and stunning natural stone define the indoor spaces and draw nature in,” according to the listing agent. “There’s absolutely nothing to do but enjoy life in this exceptional home,” and on its property and neighborhood. The owners of this property can swim in and kayak on the river, they can hike the trails of the 330-acre Trout Brook Valley Preserve protected open space and the Freeborn Trail just up the road, and they can play golf at the Aspetuck Valley Country Club just a mile away. Some local protected spaces managed by the Aspetuck Land Trust and Aquarian Water Company not only have hiking trails but also trails for horseback riding, snow-shoeing and cross country skiing.
This extraordinary private sanctuary is just minutes from the restaurants and shopping of downtown Westport and Fairfield, the agent said, and the Old Blue Bird Inn is a very short ride away.
“As functional as it is beautiful, this home is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon or to easily entertain friends and family,” the agent said of this home, which received “a top-to-bottom renovation” in 2016. “Enter the dramatic front entry and immediately note the soaring two-story living room with its walls of glass,” the agent said. The living room also features a massive wall housing the fireplace, built-in bookshelves, and an interior balcony.
The dining room features exposed beams, wide-board flooring, a wall of floor-to-ceiling shelves for displays of cookbooks and culinary ware, and a door to the grounds. Step up into the kitchen where there is a long center island and stainless steel appliances.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Mid-Century Modern
ADDRESS: 30 Valley Forge Road, Weston
FEATURES: 2.19-acre level property, waterfront property on the Saugatuck River, flagstone patio, terrace, deck, garden area, pergola, balconies, walking distance to Freeborn Trail and Trout Brook Valley Preserve, only one mile from the Aspetuck Valley Country Club and golf course, close to the Old Blue Bird Inn, three fireplaces, Westport beach rights, zoned central air conditioning, attic, unfinished basement crawl space, detached barn-style two-car garage, ample storage, private well, septic system, four bedrooms, three full baths
SCHOOLS: Hurlbutt Elementary, Weston Middle, Weston High
TAX RATE: 32.37 mills
Upstairs, the open, light-filled landing features a fireplace and a sitting or reading area. Tall, sliding, barn-like doors open to reveal the master bedroom suite, which takes in stunning views of the river and gardens, and features sliding doors to a private balcony and a stone bath with a fireplace, deep jetted tub, and shower. This floor has three more bedrooms and two additional baths.
Outside, there is a terrace with a pergola for al fresco dining.