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       The DeKlyn Estate "The Retreat", 1898

In the late summer of 1898, Charles DeKlyn of Danbury purchased five lots of prime real-estate on what is now known as Pine Point in Rowayton. On this property he built an elaborate summer house called "The Retreat" with thirty rooms, including two kitchens, an observation tower, guest and staff houses, assorted out buildings, and an enormous pier at which to dock his custom-made steam-powered yacht. The elaborate mansion sat majestically on a large piece of land overlooking Pine Point’s Crescent Beach. The main house was located at the northern extremity of the property alongside Roton Point, where a pillared driveway (known today as Nykled Terrace, DeKlyn spelled backwards) welcomed visitors—sometimes as many as thirty-five overnight guests at a time. The estate included an observation tower and manu porches on three sides. A long pier stretching southeast from the front lawn diagonally across much of Crescent Beach accommodated the DeKlyn’s custom-built steam-powered yachts, Nylked I and II, respectively. The family stables and carriage house were located on West Avenue (today known as Westmere Avenue) where they kept their coach, driven by a liveried coachman and footman, and drawn by four white horses, often followed by a Dalmatian coach dog nipping at their heels.

 

Charles DeKlyn was born in New York City in 1819 and at age twenty, married another New Yorker, Mary Jane Campbell. Mr. DeKlyn bought a bakery in SoHo, announcing the change in ownership with a printed card that pledged to “sustain its former celebrity” and vaunted his “plum, pound citron, almond, raisin, sponge and lady cake.” In 1846, he established C. DeKlyn & Son on Danbury’s Main Street, a bakery and confectionery that became the city’s largest. As the business became more successful, the company expanded with a new branch on Norwalk’s Main Street. Meanwhile, the family grew—names for four of seven children reflect respect for history and sense of humor:

(Benjamin Franklin known as “B. F.,” Marie Antoinette, and twins William Frederick and Frederick William). Around 1897, the DeKlyns bought five adjacent building lots totaling four acres on Pine Point and built their summer home.

 

“The Retreat” was primarily a summer escape for the DeKlyns, who spent most of their time at their home on Danbury’s fashionable Deer Hill Avenue. A devout Baptist and billiard aficionado, Charles DeKlyn celebrated his last birthday[1] at Pine Point surrounded by family and friends. Mr. DeKlyn died suddenly a few months later, leaving the Rowayton estate to his second eldest son, Benjamin Franklin. B. F. is credited with laying the groundwork for the Rowayton Hose Company No. 1 through his contribution of a two-wheel pumper and six hundred feet of hose to its predecessor, the Rowayton Bucket Brigade. B. F. maintained the massive estate until his death in 1918.

 

During the 1920s, after the deaths of both Mr. DeKlyn and his son "B.F.", no family member wanted the responsibility of running the estate, so the mansion was dismantled in the late 1920s and separated into three single-family residences.

 

Two of the sections of the DeKlyn mansion were moved in 1927 to lots 6 and 7 of the newly subdivided property called "Rowayton Shore" (now Roton Avenue) along Farm Creek. Today, these two former sections of "The Retreat" - the "Middle" and "West" sections - are 73 and 75 Roton Avenue. Later owners of 73 Roton Avenue were artists John and Jean Fitzgerald.  

Historic Rowayton is researching the possibility of a fourth section of "The Retreat" still located in Rowayton. Stay tuned for updates!

 

[1] Mr. DeKlyn’s birthday fell on the 4th of July; to celebrate, there would be a big display of fireworks each year at the DeKlyn estate next to Roton Point Amusement Park. Thousands gathered at the Park to see the display.

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Charles DeKlyn   Mary Jane C. DeKlyn

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The DeKlyn dock by Crescent Beach

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The DeKlyn Stables on Westmere Avenue

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      DeKlyn delivery wagon
 

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DeKlyn Candies advertisement

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     The DeKlyn tender 

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DeKlyn's Bakery with Mr. DeKlyn on far right

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