Waterfront Mid-Century Modern Saugatuck River Retreat in Westport, Connecticut
$4,099,000 | Built 1946 | 3,291 Sq. Ft. | 5 Beds | 4.5 Baths | 0.25 Acres
107 Harbor Rd, Westport, CT 06880
Nestled on the picturesque Saugatuck Island of Westport, Connecticut, lies a stunning waterfront property known as “Bea’s Folly”. Built in 1946 and lovingly expanded and renovated by local architect Larry Michaels, this beautiful home boasts not one but two primary suites, an open concept design, and a chef’s kitchen perfect for entertaining. From the moment you step inside, you’re greeted with walls of windows that flood the space with natural light and offer sweeping views of the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound. With a deep water dock and wide water views, this property is a boater’s paradise. Recently reduced to $4.09 million, “Bea’s Folly” is a rare gem waiting to be discovered.
From the listing: A BOATER’s DREAM! Bea’s Folly on Saugatuck Island. This recently renovated Saugatuck Island Gem features WIDE water views has been loved and enjoyed by the same family for nearly 60 years! This could be Your chance of a Lifetime to purchase a Harbor Rd home with a deep water dock on oversized lot of 0.25 acres The gorgeous Mid-Century Modern home was redesigned by celebrated local architect and boasts 2 graciously sized Primary Suites (one up and one down) plus 2-3 additional bedrooms, and-of course-a lofty OPEN concept and Chef’s kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances and an oversized island making it absolutely ideal for entertaining. Towering windows showcase the WIDE water views on all sides and an oversized fireplace completes and grounds the space! Great flow throughout kitchen, dining and living room. The living room spills out graciously onto the rear patio offering waterfront living space large enough for a wedding party! Have you been dreaming about getting away from it all? This 4 bedroom Mid-Century Beach House may be exactly what you need! One mile to train station or shopping in Downtown Westport, Connecticut. Bea’s Folly is on the market for $4.09 million with Robin Singer and Betsy Phillips of Coldwell Banker Realty. Photography by Barry Hyman.
Bea’s Folly History
107 Harbor Road has a long and storied history, one deeply entwined with the family of the current owners, Liz Milwe and Peter Wormser (deceased). Sid and Bea Milwe were living in Westchester when they began looking for a home closer to Sid’s business, the Stratford Town Fair, in the early 60s. Driving through Connecticut they serendipitously wandered off I95 at exit 17 and discovered Westport’s Saugatuck Island. They were instantly smitten with its unique beauty, and (at that time) somewhat rural nature. For seven years they rented on the Island, eventually buying what was then an unheated summer beach shack owned by a young family. With a large piece of property and unparalleled views, they knew they had found their forever home, albeit one in need of a complete renovation.
The Milwe’s hired local architect Larry Michaels to renovate the house and add a primary bedroom and a garage. They also enlisted their friend, architect Henry Wright, to design custom details including a modern staircase and mahogany moldings. After a trip to Japan, Bea and Sid were inspired to create their own Japanese Garden in the capacious backyard facing the water. They ended up enlisting the help of a local teenager to aid in the design and construction of the garden. That same young man, Bruce Beinfield, grew up to become a well-known architect. The Milwe’s used local boulders from the Gault family business. The boulders were so large they had to be lifted over the house with a crane. Sid and Bea loved to collect, and filled their garden with sculptures made by local artists. They lavished as much attention on the outside of the house as they did on the interior, prompting Sid to affectionately name their home, Bea’s Folly. Today, the house’s exterior, which is clad in wood shingles, features a backyard fountain with a Peter Wormser designed sculptural pergola, and proudly bears its name above the front entrance. The exterior still remains as dramatic and impactful as its interior.
Bea was a trained social worker who later became a non-governmental representative to the UN through the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — and headed the Westport chapter. She was also an accomplished documentary film maker. Bea and Sid were both union activists in the 1940s, and they continued to support liberal political and non-political civic causes in Westport. Bea’s Folly was designed with family and entertaining in mind, and its large open living spaces were host to many family dinners and numerous fundraisers and activists’ gatherings in support of causes and politicians, including George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Toby Moffet, Bella Abzug, Ned Lamont and Jim Himes, among others. It was well known on the Island that an event at Bea’s Folly was likely to attract not just neighbors, but also local celebrities like Robert Redford and Lucille Lortel. The Milwe’s were active in the Civil Rights Movement and supporters of a breakfast program in Bridgeport run by the Back Panthers. Sid and Bea put up their beloved home as collateral for bail for a Black Panther leader who was erroneously charged with a crime he did not commit. In addition to supporting causes they believed in, the Milwe’s loved to hold more intimate dinners for artists, actors, writers and intellectuals where good conversation lasted long into the night, and everyone drank their after dinner coffee under the stars enjoying spectacular views of the Sound.
In the 1980’s, Sid engaged noted architect Peter Wormer to design an addition for his legendary weekly poker games, which included game show host Sonny Fox and actor Mason Adams. The new addition, with soaring ceilings and huge windows made for a very elevated “man cave,” and today serves as a spectacular primary bedroom suite with a terrace overlooking the Sound. Neighbors on the Island know Bea’s Folly as the house on Harbor Road with the large lighted Peace Sign that reliably shines through the holiday season and the New Year, and admirably reflects the warmth and soul of the house and the family that made it a home.